November 1 is All Saints Day, the day when we pause to remember all the people of God who have gone before us in faith, and are now with the Lord in the Church Triumphant. The lectionary readings deviate from the regular readings and are special readings for this Sunday.
Isaiah 25:6-9: It is filled with hope as the prophet Isaiah looks forward to the day when the Lord will feed His people with a wonderful feast, a feast which celebrates the fact that the Lord has destroyed death; the imagery is that the Lord Himself will swallow death itself. What a graphic image, and turn of events. To the human eyes it appears as if death swallows up life, but at the end of time the Lord Himself will take death into Himself and destroy it. Let us hold fast to the hope that Isaiah’s prophecy has its fulfillment in Christ and that when we join the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in heaven that God Himself will destroy death once and for all. What a great celebration that will be!
Lord God, the appetite of death seems to be insatiable. Keep before us Isaiah’s prophecy and its fulfillment in Jesus that one day You will completely destroy death itself. To You be the honor and glory for Your victory of life through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Psalm 24: 1-10: Today’s psalm is a wonderful psalm of praise, recounting that the righteous may come into the Lord’s presence. Let us remember that our righteousness is in Christ. Then the psalm breaks into praise of the Lord, calling on the gates of the Temple to be lifted up so that the glory of the Lord may enter. This brings back thoughts of the glory of the Lord filling the Tabernacle and then the Temple. Where is the glory of the Lord now? In the Church of Christ, and in His people – you, and me, and all the followers of the Lord who call on His Name. Let our lives be lives which reflect the glory of the Lord.
Lord God, holy and mighty, lift up the gates and doors of our hearts today and fill us again with Your glory and majesty. Let Your glory be seen in us and in the Church of Christ so that honor and praise is brought to You, and people come to You giving you honor and glory through Christ. Amen.
Revelation 21:1-6: The Second Reading gives us tremendous words of hope and assurance, even in the face of death. The Lord is victorious! He will dwell with us and we will see Him! And He will tenderly wipe all tears from our eyes. There will be no more death, no more crying, no more pain. God will make all things new. All things will be as God intended from the beginning of creation. God will do this. Trust Him. Rejoice in Him!
Comforting and compassionate Lord. Through Jesus You understand all that we face in life; You know the pain, grief and anguish we face, especially in death. We thank and praise You that through Jesus’ death and resurrection You will make all things new. Enable us to look forward to that Day of rejoicing in Christ. Amen.
John 11:32-44: I would invite you to read the entire John chapter 11 to get the context of the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. Notice that the people who were affected by Lazarus’ death had the hope and expectation that Jesus would have arrived sooner and restored Lazarus to health. Notice that Mary scolded Him (as did Martha earlier in the chapter) for not getting there in time. The other mourners expressed a similar attitude in vs. 36. Jesus didn’t respond with an excuse or scold in return. He simply went to Lazarus’ tomb, ordered that it be opened (notice that Martha chided Jesus again in vs. 39), prayed a prayer – not for the power to raise Lazarus – but for the faith of all who were at that stench-filled tomb, and then He called Lazarus to come out alive!
One day the Lord will stand at the graves of our loved-ones who have died, and, unless He returns soon, at our graves also. When He does, He will call us back to life in Himself. Be comforted, be hopeful, be alive in Christ.
Lord Jesus, let us always hear Your voice which calls us to life in You. Let us be alive in You. Let us be comforted as we face death, knowing that one Day You will call us to life again, and that when You do, death will no longer have any power over us because we have the power of Your resurrection in us. Thanks be to You. In Your Name we pray. Amen.