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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Today’s Reading | Revelation 21:1–6a

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” (NRSV)

Today is All Saints’ Day. Graciously, the Apostle Paul reminds us that all of us who strive to follow Jesus are the saints. Not only the great names in faith, but all of us ordinary folk as well. In recent years, I have come to value this Sunday as a high holy day when we take time to name in our worship the faithful forebearers who have gone before us, dear members of our household of faith whose wondrous witness prepared the way for us.

The words we read from the book of Revelation are one of the scriptures proposed for this day. We not only look back upon the lives of the ordinary saints we know. As we strive to keep the journey going, we are inspired by their deep trust in God, which undergirded them. And we look ahead to that day, which will come when we are gathered by our loving God into the holy city, when we will know the presence of the Holy One in a radically new way.

God will dwell with all God’s people in an intimate and everlasting pattern, testifies the biblical author. We are promised that the tears we shed will be wiped away by a holy hand; “mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” We will experience a new creation brought into being by the One who is “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

One of the rich gifts of ministry in which I share at Fourth Presbyterian Church is to be present with and learn from the saints who face the last stage of their earthly journey upheld by the loving support of family and friends and the loving arms of God. They embody the opening words of the Brief Statement of Faith, which we confess together: “In life and in death, we belong to God.” Alleluia! Amen!

Eternal God, we give you heartfelt thanks “for all the saints, who from their labors rest.” May their witness inspire us in the present and lead us into a promised future, following Jesus our friend and our Savior. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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