All Saints Sunday – Sermon 183
Bible References :
Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ
All Saints Day – a day when we celebrate the Saints – around us – and that have gone before us-
ordinary men and women who have done extraordinary things – in the name of Jesus Christ –
The word ‘Saint’ when used in the Bible signifies those who are ‘in Christ’ – and fortunately for us – being dead is not necessarily part of the equation –
Not me – we might say! – I’ve never done anything that – might warrant me being called any thing special –
But we are all called by Jesus – to be His Saints – and it will not be our good deeds that sets us apart – but His presence within us – and the difference that – Jesus makes to our lives –
So what difference can Jesus make?
Well lets see if our readings can help us?
Point 1 God provides us with a banquet of good things- -–
Imagine – a harsh drab housing estate – or a situation involving war – oppression or persecution – (not too difficult in today’s climate) where people have their backs to the wall – and are not sure which way to turn –
for the moment – the ruthless forces seem to have the upper hand – there seems little chance of rescue – but as every Christian knows – God will not let things go – and even in such circumstances – the oppressors defeat is certain –
In our OT reading – Isaiah reminds us of the hope – and liberation – that God brings – to those who are exploited and oppressed – He speaks of the trustworthiness – of God – and of His strong saving hand –
He uses the image – of a great banquet – to show that God offers His blessings to all – who come to eat at His table –
Food of the finest quality – to sustain us – whatever our circumstances – the finest wines – and the best meats (a luxury eaten only by the rich) –
meat and two veg – that we will set us apart from the everyday demands of life – so that we can – put God first – and live our lives – to the full – as God wants us to live –
God’s food will help us overcome our blindness and our fears – and wipe away tears from every face – even death the universal swallower – will be swallowed up forever –
In God’s banquet – there will be joy for all –
And – as we now know – this great nourishment and saving grace – is provided for us – through His Son Jesus Christ – the great liberator of mankind –
Jesus is the food that God offers us at His Table –
who through His words and actions has changed our understanding of God – and of ourselves-
He is a meal that Jesus Himself has called us to eat – superior to anything that we could ever provide – and a much better than the meal we gave to Him – at our table –
In a small French village – the local doctor – who had spent all his life helping the people – decided to retire – and the mayor suggested that the people should say thank you in a special way.
He proposed to place an empty keg in the village square so that each household could bring a pitcher of wine to pour into the keg – which when full – could be presented – to the doctor –
On the appointed day – there was a steady stream of villagers bringing their full pitchers to put in the keg – and in the evening a full keg was presented to the doctor – who took it home.
The next night sitting around his fireplace the doctor poured himself a glass – he took at sip – He couldn’t believe it! – he poured himself another glass – it was the same!
The keg was full of water! When the mayor heard he called a meeting – to see what went wrong – and – much to the village’s embarrassment – it seems that every person had brought water to pour into the keg – thinking it would never be noticed -because everyone else was bringing wine!
Fortunately for us – God doesn’t give like we give
God sent us His Son so that we might have a meal of a lifetime – a meal of quality – that could transform our lives –
the invitations have been sent out – and all are welcome – its up to us – whether we are hungry enough for His word – to come to sit at His Table and eat –
Point 2 God provides us with a new home to go to –
In our NT reading – we have another illustration – of an important difference that God can make to our lives – He gives us a home to go to –
Our reading from Revelation tells us of a great vision – of a new heaven and a new earth –
a ‘ Holy City, a New Jerusalem, coming out of Heaven from God’-
one in which God Himself will dwell with mankind –
In the Bible – God’s home also spells God’s family – and He invites us all to become one of His children – and like a father waiting for His son or daughter – He promises to be there waiting for us – when we arrive
On any journey having a home to go to – and a destination to reach sustain us – on our travels – helps keeps us focused – on what lies ahead –
and we know that when we reach it – we can relax and enjoy its benefits –
A bus driver and a minister were standing in line to get into heaven – The bus driver approached the gate – and St. Peter welcomed him – ‘I understand you were a bus driver’ he said, ‘Well since I am in charge of housing – I believe I have found you the perfect place – see that mansion on the hilltop – its yours!
The minister heard all this – and began to stand a little taller – saying to himself – if a bus driver has got a place like that – just think what I’ll get!
The minister approached the gate and St. Peter welcomed him, ‘I understand you were a minister’, he said, ‘See that shed in the middle of the valley – its yours!
The minister replied, ‘But I don’t understand – I was a minister – I preached the Gospel – helped teach people about God! Why does the bus driver get a mansion and I get a shed!’
‘Sadly,’ said Peter, ‘it seems that when you preached – people slept – but when the bus driver drove – people prayed!’
God’s promise of heaven – comes as a gift –
None of us will go to heaven because we are good – but because Jesus died for us on the cross –
The most important thing we can do – if we want to get to heaven, is to receive Jesus! – and let Him show us the way.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians calls Christians – citizens of heaven – he says we are – not citizens of earth trying to get to heaven – but – like Jesus – citizens of heaven – making our way through this earth –
We don’ t know how we’ll – get there – or what form life will take – but we do know who to follow – and who will be there waiting for us –
We are living a story that was started by God – and in the end – will be finished by God
And as Christians – we know that as long as we make our relationship with Jesus – our No. 1 priority – then with Jesus’ help – we are sure to arrive at our No.1 destination
Point 3 Jesus provides us with a new life to live –
And so to our Gospel reading – and the third and most important difference He makes – the gift of eternal life –
In Jesus we have the promise of a new Life – beyond death – and in our Gospel reading Jesus demonstrates His resurrection power through the raising of Lazarus from his tomb –
For Lazarus – his release from death was only temporary – but Jesus would soon complete His resurrection for real – making the journey through death and out the other side – to show His disciples and the world – what is really on offer – for the Christian way of life –
when Lazarus – walked out – his hands and feet were bound with linen bandages – and his face wrapped in a cloth –
and it was Jesus who called for Him to be set free
Freedom is something we all want – freedom from pain – freedom from debt – freedom from death – freedom from– the things that hold us back – that prevent us from being the people God wants us to be –
and – like Lazarus we can’t free ourselves – We need rescuing – and its Jesus who has been sent to to be our saviour –
Through His death on the cross – Jesus has broken the power of sin – and provided us with a way to forgiveness – and a fresh start with God –
Without Jesus – we remain locked in sin forever –
Jesus called Lazarus out of his tomb to demonstrate that He has power over life – and death – and that His kingdom is not of this world – but of the next –
Today – God is calling us out of the our tomb – out of our darkness – into His Sons-light – to feast on His presence – and to put our trust in the life – death and resurrection – of Jesus Christ –
Jesus came from God – so He could show us the way back to Him – and its only through Jesus – that we will receive life and make it safely home –
God is calling us to come out – and show the way for others – to show what can be done in His name
All Saints day celebrates those whose Christian discipleship inspires generations – whose lives serve extraordinary examples – of Christian love and obedience-
On this All Saints Sunday – we are being offered a new hope – a new home – a new way to live –
Do we trust God enough – to follow in the footsteps of the greatest Saint of them all –
Prayer to finish
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.