ALL SAINTS (OBSERVED) AD 2019
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
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,  and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"  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,  saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."
 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?"  I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
 "Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
1 John 3:1-3
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness 'sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile 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.
What we will be has not yet appeared. No, it has not, not by a long shot. Not yet, but one day, one day, beloved, what we will be will appear. We have none other than the Lord’s own Word in the Gospel today that it will indeed appear. In fact it is such a sure thing that we can claim what we will be as our own even now. Blessed even in this moment, despite all that we see or feel, because we will be blessed.
I know how hard it can be to hold on to that truth in the midst of the great tribulation - in the trial and struggle that goes along with living in a world burdened by the curse of sin under the rule of its dark prince. Blessed, yes, it can be hard to see or feel that in this present age when, what we and the world will be, has not yet appeared.
A poor miserable sinner like me? Blessed? Blessed as I grown along under the burden of the mess that is me? Blessed under this stinking rotten sinful part of me, that is ever doing the evil that I would not do and never quite getting it right when it comes to the good, that I know that I should and want to do? Blessed when I’ve got wicked thoughts in my head and impious deeds in my heart?
Blessed when I can’t bridle my own tongue but hurt and wound those nearest and dearest to me with it? Blessed when I ever seem to be falling down and failing in all the places, that God has given me to serve Him in this world? Blessed when no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get anywhere with pretty much anything? Blessed when those around me fail and hurt me in their sin?
Blessed? In a world where young children get caught in the crossfire of gang violence? Blessed in a world where teenagers are killed at parties? Blessed in a world where a woman’s boyfriend stabs her child in its crib at night? Blessed in a world where countless babies are mercilessly killed in their mother’s wombs every single day? Blessed when there are so many first nations’ young people tragically taking their own lives?
Blessed when the sky is falling? Blessed when we continue to pump out as much, or more, carbon dioxide, as we have in years gone by and so warming our world, and endangering the very survival of our race? Blessed when the only answer to that seems to be to put the breaks on our whole way of life and plunge the world economy into complete collapse and chaos? Blessed when we’re toxifying our land and waters? Blessed when the honey bees are dying?
Blessed when there are awful things that can happen to you and those that you love like cancer, heart attack and stroke? Blessed when your mind, or the mind of those that you love, descends into the darkness and just can’t seem to come out to see the light of day? Blessed when those that you love leave you behind to carry on life without them? Blessed when your heart is overcome with grief and sorrow?
Blessed when the Church is under attack from without and within? Blessed when so many wander away and so few seem to come in and stay? Blessed when Satan snatches the Word away from many and it can’t seem to take root in the rocky ground of so many hearts? Blessed when pastors seem to be living the life of Father MacKenzie from the Beatles’ song - “writing sermons that no one will hear?” Blessed when the pews are empty but the arenas are full?
Blessed? Yes, even in this moment, despite all that we feel and see, because we will be blessed. Hard to hold onto in the great tribulation? Hard to hold on to indeed! Which is why the Lord comes to grab hold of us today with His Word. “Blessed’, He declares, not once, not twice, but nine times over. “Blessed, even now, in the trials and struggles of this world and life under sin, because you will be blessed on that glorious day, when I appear to the world and open your eyes to see me as I am.”
Blessed? Yes, blessed because you are children of God born anew from above in the waters of your Baptism. That, beloved, is an unshakeable unquestionable truth because God declares it to be so. In the font you have not only been washed with the blood of Christ, you have been fully and completely clothed in Him. His life is your life which, yes, means the cross in this age, but a blessed eternity of glory when you leave it behind. And leave it behind you will, because Christ entered it and left it behind for you.
Because you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you will go out of the great tribulation to be with Christ where He is, which is at the right hand of God. Yes, you have one foot in the world, which means you will know trial and trouble, but as Christ descends to you today at the altar, surrounded by His angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, He renews you in the truth that your other foot is securely and firmly planted outside of it in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Will we go out of the great tribulation into Christ’s glorious light? There can be no question about that, beloved, here in the foretaste of the heavenly Marriage Feast of the Lamb, where Christ our Groom shares His life with us now, that we might live with Him in it forever. Blessed? Now and forever? Indeed, because we have been made one with the Blessed One.
No, that truth has not been revealed yet, but it is most surely hidden inside each one of us, and one day, like the Saints that we remember and give thanks for today, we will know it all the more surely, when we go to heaven to wait in joy for the day, when the Lord will raise us and recreate the world. With all that ahead of us what can we call ourselves but blessed? Blessed indeed!
And so open your ears wide beloved, and here it declared about you and over you, so that you might learn to confess it and live in its truth, until that glorious day when with your own eyes you will see Christ as He is, and what you are, will appear in all its gracious glory for all eternity. Amen.