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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Nov 6, 2016  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, AMEN.

The text for our meditation today is the first Lesson for all Saints Sunday, Revelation 7:9-17. There we read these words:

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."

We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN

In our culture today, people more and more often expect a funeral sermon to include a certain amount of praise for the person who died. Even some Christians become angry if he or she believes the preacher did not measure up to expectation, not saying enough about the deceased.

I wonder why this happens. Certainly the unbelieving world should, at its funerals,. remember many good things about its dead—as many good things as possible. God’s Word says concerning the unbelieving world, "They have no hope and they are without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).

Fond memories are the only comforts available concerning those who die outside the faith. The unbelieving world needs to praise its dead because the unbelieving world has no one else to praise.

You are not the unbelieving world. God saved you out of the world by the blood and death of His Son. But even many Christians likewise expect many good things to be said at the funerals of their Christian loved ones who have died. Certainly they could argue that the deceased produced many good fruits of faith in his or her life, and those good fruits offer good comforts in time of grie

Stained Glass Baptism Window

To a certain extent, they have a point. But the performance of works can fool you, as the Lord repeatedly warns. Beyond that, good works are only a shadow of the bright and sunny things that Jesus has done for your Christian loved ones who have died. In a funeral sermon, time spent discussing the good works of the deceased might take away from time spent proclaiming the Christ who created those good works.

And what is preaching, anyway—funeral or otherwise? Has not God taught in His living Word that preaching is the proclamation of Christ and His crucifixion for your forgiveness of sins, for your resurrection and your life?

Who are these, whose caskets we place before the altar before we bury them in the Christian faith? They are part of ....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 loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

With these Words, God wants you to know that your Christian loved ones who have died are now speaking. They stand before the throne and before the Lamb; they cry out in a loud voice but they choose not to speak about themselves.

Pleading ignorance of their own works, your Christian loved ones who have died now shout at the tops of their voices, with everything they have in their lungs, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

God wants you to know that your Christian loved ones who have died are now clothed in white robes. In other words, your Christian loved ones who have died now wear the righteousness and holiness of Christ, just as you likewise wear the holiness of Jesus. They wear His good works, which cover and sanctify their own

Everything about your Christian loved ones who have died has been covered in Christ, just as you also clothed yourselves and your children with Christ in Baptism.

The white robes of the saints in heaven perform roughly the same service for you as do the white robes of a pastor or a vicar: these robes have the effect of covering over the person so that you may focus your attention exclusively upon the proclamation of Christ and His life.

Your Christian loved ones who have died now hold palm branches in their hands. They do not hold résumés or service records or college transcripts or bibliographies or photo albums. They hold palm branches.

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

Your Christian loved ones who have died hold the very same symbols of victory that the people outside Jerusalem held before our Lord, anticipating His crucifixion and heralding the good news of His resurrection. They are 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!"

Today is All Saints’ Day, the last feast day of the Church Year. The Church Year began with Advent, which is all about Christ and His gracious coming amongst us.

Christmas and Epiphany are likewise about Jesus, rejoicing in human and bodily presence of God in our midst. What are the seasons of Lent and Easter, but a journey with Jesus to His bloody cross and His empty tomb, where He "was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25)?

Then comes the season of Pentecost, the season we are now in, where we rejoice that Christ and His Holy Spirit continually live and dwell among us, producing within us the good fruit of faith. Simply stated, the entire Church year is all about Jesus and only Jesus (Luke 9:28-36).

Today is All Saints’ Day. Do not think of All Saints Day as the day you move your attention away from Christ in order to focus upon your Christian loved ones who have died.

No, All Saints Day in intended to impress upon you that, when you fix your eyes on Jesus), you are not alone. Your Christian loved ones who have died likewise continue to look upon the Christ who has saved both them and you.

As happy as it would make you feel to look around and find them in the crowd, and you can see their names listed on the two banners in front of you, they bid you to keep your eyes focused in the same direction in which they themselves continually and joyfully look, for they know where true joys are found:

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."

Christ is Risen.

Luther Rose

 

Christ Is Risen
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