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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

All Saints’ Day, Thursday, November 1, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Revelation 7:9–17

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “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, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (NRSV)

In recent years, All Saints’ Sunday has become a deeply meaningful occasion for me. To name the saints who from their labors rest has become ever more important in my experience of our shared life in faith. In our evening requiem worship at Fourth Presbyterian Church, the names of members who have died in the last year are read, and a bell is tolled for each name. Together we witness to the powerful promise that “in life and in death, we belong to God.”

Our practice echoes the words found in the expressive written pictures of today’s reading from the book of Revelation. We recall the saints corporately, in worship, anticipating being part of the great multitude gathered in the presence of the Holy One, singing unending praise. And by naming our friends in faith, we renew our trust that they rest within the everlasting love of our eternal God.

While there are no geographical descriptions in the scriptures of the life that is to come, the words of Revelation are evocatively promising. We will be sheltered by our loving God. No longer will we hunger, thirst, or suffer due to natural afflictions. Our souls will be renewed by the springs of the water of life. And “God will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes.” May our voices be raised in praise and thanksgiving to our God of compassion!

“Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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