All Saints’ Day – 01 November 2015

posted in: Sermons | 0


Rev’d Jonathan Gale

Isaiah 25: 6 – 9

6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.
7 And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
8 he will swallow up death for ever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.


Revelation 21: 1 – 6a

The New Heaven and the New Earth

21Then 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. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And 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;*
4 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.’

5 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.’ 6Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

John 11: 32 – 44

32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ 37But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life

38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ 40Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’



7 And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
8 he will swallow up death for ever.

I once heard an ignorant priest say these words: “Death is part of life.” What rubbish!! What ignorance! We have been so mixed in with the compost of a fallen world that we cannot see beyond the decay that is its lot, to a future that was God’s intention in the first place.

The Scriptures are quite plain that God is the source of all life, and that death came into the world because of sin, that Jesus died in order to bear the consequences of our sin, and that the great victory is in resurrection, the defeat of death.


In exclaiming upon this Paul cries out to the Corinthian church, 51Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die,* but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Is it any wonder that we are sad when someone dies? It is both a personal loss and a confirmation of what we know deep down; that we live in a world reaping the consequences of its fallen nature, a world in desperate need of God.


And Isaiah says God will destroy the shroud of death – the result of the Fall – for as the Psalmist says of God:

You are the giver of life.
Your light lets us enjoy life.

(Psalm 36:9 New Century Version)

God is about life! And this is integral to our hope as Christians.


In the Revelation to John we read:

‘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;
4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;

That’s the first point I want to make: God has and will kick death to touch.
Jesus’ first recorded words in his public ministry (Mark 1: 15) are “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”


I.e. the Good News is the coming of the Kingdom of God – that which is in opposition to the Kingdom of Satan – or the forces of chaos/inertia/death etc that plague the world.

In John 10: 10 Jesus says, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Life and health. Good news!


Some of us think the Good News is about:

  • a personal response to the Gospel, others that it is about
  • addressing injustice, others about
  • the flourishing of one’s parish

All these are part of something much greater; and that is the invasion of earth by God in the form of Jesus who is establishing a beachhead in a world that does not honour God; about establishing a group of people who live by God’s principles. These other things flow out of that.


And the lifestyle that we live is a foretaste of that which will be extrapolated, expanded, fully manifest when Christ returns.


The Kingdom of God is both here and still to come.

  • It is fully here in Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in growing the church which is the mainstay of the Kingdom of God.
  • It is still to come when heaven and earth are made one, Christ returns, all are resurrected, all face judgement – those who reject God face condemnation and those who accept him face a glorious future.


What it means is we are a people of hope – Christian hope, not a vague hope that things will be better. Christian hope is something solid, even though we are not sure exactly what it will look like. We have enough clues from Scripture to know that it will be both wonderful and certain.


We live with the reality of Jesus’ life in and with us by the Holy Spirit now, and we look forward to the full consummation of God’s plan of redemption for the world he loves which involves the return of Jesus and the unification of heaven and earth in the future.
An essential element of all this is that all the saints (that is all believers, past and present) will be united in one great and wonderful community together.

Today is All Saints Day and we celebrate just that.

That’s my second point: the Kingdom of God is about life!


You see, the sad thing about Lazarus is that he eventually faced death again. The wonderful thing about Lazarus, about you and me, about everyone who has ever followed Jesus (and that includes all those who have died and whom we remember today); is that in spite of it, we will all have the shroud of death removed for once and for always.

But here’s the thing: we can live with a foretaste of that right now. When we

  • come to Christ in faith, when, in the midst of the circumstances we face right now, we
  • say, : Dear God. I hold out my arms to you. I accept that Christ has died and risen for me. I am beginning to understand how much of a muck we have made of our existence here,
  • I give myself over to you entirely

…  then God sends his Spirit into us, opens our eyes to his presence within us and we begin to experience the life of God in Christ.


We don’t have to wait for the trumpet blasts of Revelation, for what is described as the great and dreadful Day of the Lord.

A foretaste of all God has for us is available right now. We simply have to reach out in faith and receive it.

That’s my third point: we can begin to taste the life of the Kingdom now.

So …


  1. God has and will kick death to touch.
  2. the Kingdom of God is about life!
  3. we can begin to taste the life of the Kingdom now.


Let us pray:

Whether you have consciously handed yourself over to God before or not, really doesn’t matter because he is always ready to receive us. But God doesn’t do things by halves. He is not here simply to make life easier for us.

God is God. That means he is the Creator of all that exists and the rescuer of it all too. We need to acknowledge him for what he is: the Lord.

And we need to acknowledge our shortfalls too, and because he is Love – he more than willingly responds to us. The crucifixion is ample evidence of his love for us and his resurrection is ample evidence of his restorative power on our behalf. So let us pray.


Dear God

We would acknowledge our imperfection, the fact that we have not always loved you or served you as we should. Forgive us Lord. Take up full residence within us as we both acknowledge you as the Lord and as our rescuer.  In so doing we give ourselves wholly over to you and embrace the Kingdom of God.

In the name of Jesus we pray this.


God bless you.