. . . Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
—2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
But this is not all there is. Eternity awaits. And that is what really matters. Jesus tells us the truth. He speaks the truth in all its harshness to rouse us from slumber, to show us that there is far more to life than what we have in this world and in this fallen existence. He speaks the truth in all its sweetness to comfort and console, to give courage and strength.
Who are these arrayed in white? They are those declared saints by God, all of them; kin and friends, children we never met, grandparents we barely remember, loved ones and yet to meet ones, all saints, and they wait for us. They are our people. This is their festival, our festival. For the “all” in All Saints means that we too, by grace, are in that number.
For we will all be judged. We will all stand in God’s courtroom before His throne. And our only plea can be “I a poor miserable sinner . . . . forgive me by grace for Christ’s sake.” And if that is your plea, if that is your confession, the verdict will be “Not guilty.”
Greater love has no God, no Baal, no Allah, no Buddah, no Great Spirit in the sky, than this: that He lay down His Son’s life for His enemies, for His enemies!
You are exalted because Christ became what you are to make you what He is. You are exalted with the work of Christ for you. You are emptied of your sin to be filled with the righteousness of Christ. You are emptied of your own merits and your worthiness, which is death and hell, and filled with the merits and worthiness of Christ, which is life and eternal salvation. You are emptied of your own status as a sinner and given His status as Sons of God the Father.
Two great processions meet at the gate of Nain: one of death and one of life. Which of them will prevail: The boy by sin’s wages slain or the Prince of Life Himself?
Death does not reign. Jesus lives. Your Father loves you. He will take care of it as surely as He takes care of the lilies. Death does not reign. Jesus lives.
His Word made you what it said, but, His call does not coerce. You do now have a choice. You have, in fact, daily choices. And those choices matter.
In the midst of a broken world, which we created, God has grown a little patch of the new Eden here in the Divine Service. He has planted a new tree of life, the Holy Cross, and a new river flows from it, the waters of Holy Baptism, and a new fruit is eaten, a fruit that brings life, the body and blood of the one who is crucified. The sons of Adam once more hear the voice of God and come into his presence through the Divine Liturgy.
And He does all things well. But that is the most difficult part, isn’t it? To believe. To trust that whatever you may be going through, whatever you may endure, whatever may befall you, God in Christ does all things well and for your good.