Archive for the ‘All Saints Day’ Category

All Saints Day

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Daniel 7:18
“But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.

Receive the kingdom that will last forever, the kingdom of God. Today we are celebrating the Christian festival of All Saints from last Friday. We thank God we are in His kingdom, and for all our brothers in Christ, Christians throughout the world now and those who have gone before, all the saints at warfare and all the saints at rest. We are all in Christ, so we are all together. God gave Daniel a vision the worldly kingdoms defeated and the Holy people of the Most High to receive this everlasting kingdom, and earlier a vision of a great rock that crushed the powers of this world then grew to fill all things (Daniel 7; 2). Jesus is the fulfilment and in His ministry proclaims it, ‘The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is here, repent and believe the good news.’ (Mark 1:15) The king foretold, coming on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9), suffering, dying forever victorious over sin for your forgiveness, and rising forever victorious over death for your life. The power of this world destroyed, the power of God’s kingdom has come and the gates of hell and death will never overcome it (Matthew 16:18). This is the wonderful news for you today.

Last week we remembered the church of God throughout human history, how and why the reformation happened, but now we remember all the members of God’s kingdom and the eternal truth that together we receive this kingdom, this inheritance of the King of kings. You were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). And when were you sealed, given the Spirit? As Jesus said you must be born again by water and the Spirit (John 3:5) and then Paul writing to Titus, He has saved us in mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), this is the one baptism all saints are baptised into (Ephesians 4:4-6). And so sealed in baptism in the Spirit, elsewhere joined to Christ Jesus in Holy baptism (Romans 6:3), we are members of the kingdom (Ephesians 2:19), you are a co-heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17), inheriting with Him and all our Father’s children the kingdom of God. The Holy people of the Most High will receive this everlasting kingdom.

And that kingdom of forgiveness and everlasting life is here. God is not a god of the dead but of the living (Mark 12:27), so you who are in Christ are with all others who are in Christ. It’s not something we can comprehend by our own human understanding and without a God-given vision we cannot see this truth, but today you are in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus. He is here! Just as we are joined mystically with Him, we are joined together with all who are in Him, all Christians suffering and struggling throughout this world, and with those Christians who have died before us. We remind ourselves in the prayer before communion, together with angels, archangels and all the company of heaven. This image from Revelation (4:2-11; 7:9-17) of the multitudes of martyrs and all saints praising and glorifying the Lamb who was slain, the victorious lion of Judah. Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty! We are not alone, in the wonder of Christ descending to you and me offering Himself in bread and wine we have a foretaste of the feast to come. Coming to the table in Christ with all saints, one in Christ and not separated. You are forgiven, you are freed by the truth, you, together with all the holy nation, the royal priesthood, the chosen people of God, we have received this everlasting kingdom, together. And thank God for that!

The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now to the final revelation of His kingdom. Amen.

Joseph Graham

24th Sunday after Pentecost 4th November

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

All Saints reflection

Matthew 5:1-12

Fortunate are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Fortunate are you when others despise you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We hear blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven, God Almighty’s Kingdom, that belongs to all those who He has justified through Jesus; for all those saints who have gone before. It’s always a bit funny, or rather strange, talking about our Christian brothers and sisters who have died. There again is the pain of loss, of what could have been, that sorrow at sin and its final consequence; but also the comfort and joy that those who rest in Jesus, baptised into His death, will surely rise again with Him on the last day, or maybe they’ve joined up with the angels singing God’s praise in His glorious presence as Revelation shows us. We don’t know exactly what happens after a Christian dies, God only saw fit to write down that we will find our ultimate rest and peace in Jesus Christ His Son.

But I am not talking to the saints who’ve gone before, but rather to you, the saints still in the war. Fighting against temptation, against fear, despair your own sin, even the sins of those down the street. We are still in the thick of it, and just like many farmers in this drought we are called to be vigilant all the time. Are you?

Do you always reject temptation? Do you realise that you cannot live on your own? Are these beatitudes things that you need to do, God’s Law for you? Jesus was teaching His followers when He spoke these beatitudes. Fortunate/blessed/happy are the poor in spirit, the crushed and broken, those who have no self assurance, no self esteem, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; do you hunger for something when you’re full, or when you don’t have it? Rather than God’s Command these are promises for who? In the final one we hear who Jesus is talking to: Fortunate are you, Jesus says, when you are despised and persecuted for His sake, rejoice and be glad.

And you are blessed and fortunate because you have been shown your sinful failings and been washed in the saving waters of Baptism, as that saint who came before us said in his letter to the Romans (6:1-11), in baptism we are joined to Christ in His death and so too you and all the saints who have gone before, all those who knew their need and received Christ’s righteousness, all of us have suffered under sin, but will be ultimately be united together in His resurrection, on the last day.

Pastor Joseph Graham.