BULLETIN

SERMON TEXT BELOW

All Saints’ Day (observed) 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 7, 21021
Revelation 7:9-17, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            It was a Wednesday.  April 6, 1966.  It was a momentous day, at least for me.  It was the day that, against my will, I was forced from the warm, watery confines of my mother’s womb into the bright, antiseptic environment of the maternity ward at Porter Memorial Hospital in Valparaiso, Indiana. 

            Up to this point I had the constant, comforting beat of my mother’s heart to keep me company.  I could hear my mother’s muffled voice and voices of others around her.  I had a blurry vision but could see the glow of bright lights.  Depending on what mom had for dinner I could taste it in the fluid surrounding me.  It was a wonderful life inside the womb.  It was the only life I knew.

            But then I had to come out into the world.  I did not want to come out, but I came out into the world anyway, and it was not an easy trip.  I do not remember much about that day, but I am sure it was traumatic.  I probably cried and wet myself.  

            Birth is horrible and birth is wonderful.  It transports you to the next stage of your existence.

            You have been born, and you now live life in this world.  You can see things more clearly.  You can hear things more distinctly.  You can taste the nuances of food and drink.  You can feel the sun on your face and feel love from other people. You are pretty invested in this life. The joys and the struggles.  The triumphs and the tragedies.  The excitement of life and the drudgery of day by day existence.  It is all you know as you live here in the womb of this life preparing to be birthed into the next life. 

            On All Saint’s Day you think about what is next.  After your time here in this life, what awaits you?  This is a question that has perplexed people from the beginning.  What happens after you die?

            Like a baby in the womb who thinks he is living his best life now, too often you can think that you are living your best life now, but you are wrong.  The best is yet to come.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed here does not mean happy.  Blessed means you are blessed for eternity.  You are blessed with eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.  You are blessed to have all your sins covered by the robe of Jesus’ righteousness.  You are blessed to be destined to spend eternity with the Lord in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem. 

            The best is yet to come and yet that is so easy to forget.  It is far too easy to get so focused on the things of this life that death seems to be the absolute worst thing that can ever happen.  Death can become terrifying.  And so you try to deny death; ignore death; pretend that you are immortal.  You want to stay insulated from death, and yet death is an ever present companion. Indeed, you walk through the valley of the shadow of death but you want to imagine that the shadow is not there. Today we remember those who died this last year, and before, and we are reminded that death is coming for each of us.

            Death is horrible and death is wonderful.  Death transports you to the next stage of your existence.  Death is a step on the journey of your existence from creation to eternity in the Heavenly City where you will live in the presence of the Lord forever.

            Stay alert.  The devil, the world and your own sinful flesh want you forget about the life to come and to focus only on the here and now.  They want you to give up eternal life for the things of this life. 

In the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou” there is a guitar player who claims he sold his soul to the devil in order to become a talented musician.  In movies and television there are many variations on this theme of selling your soul to gain something.  You see this and think, “I would never do that!” but it is amazing to see for how little people are willing to sell their eternal souls.  What keeps people away from gathering to hear the Good News of forgiveness and receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus?  What gets people started on a habitual absence from the Body of Christ? Staying out too late on Saturday night? Wanting an extra hour of sleep?  A lazy morning?  The repeated plan to get to church next week that never actually happens? Life getting so busy you cannot squeeze one more thing in?  People give up Jesus for the fleeting things of this world. 

We are all sinners who need a savior. Salvation is freely given by Jesus to all people but so many who hear this Good News, so many who confess the Good News, get distracted by the busyness of life and the deceitfulness of wealth and they turn their backs on Jesus.  It is so very tempting to give up Jesus to pursue the things of this world because we lose sight of the life to come.  We get so focused on glory in this life we forget about the cross of Christ which brings you to the next life.

            As followers of Jesus you are in the world but you cannot be of the world.  Your identity is as a baptized child of God.  You are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.  You have been born again of water and the Spirit.  You are in this world, but this is not your home.  For now you live in this world and you do what you have been given to do.  You manage God’s gifts to you, but you also know this life is short.  Job 14:1–2 (ESV) 1 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. 2 He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. 1 Peter 1:24–25 (ESV) 24 … “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

            The Word of the Lord remains forever.  Your body will not.  You have been born of your mother and then born again in water and the Spirit. Unless Jesus returns soon, you will die, but because you are clothed in the robe of Jesus’ righteousness you will not experience the second death of eternity in Hell.  You have the eternal word of the Lord.

            Your body will, one day, be buried in the ground and return to the earth.  Dust you are and to dust you shall return.  When you die your remains are buried in the ground and your spirit goes to be with the Lord as you rest in peace awaiting the final resurrection of your body on the last day when you will be raised up imperishable.  Folks have so many ideas of what things will be like in the afterlife, but we really do not know much about what life will be like in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  We know even less about the intermediate time between your death and resurrection.  You do not now know what that existence will be like, but one day you will know. 

            The Word of the Lord remains forever.  Your body will not.  You have been born of your mother and then born again in water and the Spirit. Unless Jesus returns soon, you will die, but because you are clothed in the robe of Jesus’ righteousness you will not experience the second death of eternity in Hell.  You have the eternal word of the Lord.

            1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)  12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  

For now you get only get Biblical glimpses of your future in the Heavenly City.  Revelation 7:9–12 (ESV)  9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 

            Life in the Heavenly City will be beyond what you can now understand.  Like a baby in the womb you do not know what the next life will be like, but you have God’s promise that it will be paradise.  You know that wearing the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness you will be one of the Saints who go marching in through the pearl gates on the Judgment Day.  For now, you live your life as a stranger in this world, sealed with the blood of Jesus, trusting in the promise of life in the next.  Remembering those who have fought the good fight of faith we feebly struggle waiting for the breaking of the yet more glorious day when we will be raised to eternal life in the Lord.  And you confess with St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:55–57 (ESV)  55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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