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November 2010

For All the Saints

by Rev. Joel Fritsche

The holy Christian Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints on November 1. Traditionally we transfer its observance to the following Sunday. This will be my first year celebrating this festival with you, my brothers and sisters of Zion. I look back on one year of service in your midst and I think especially of all the saints whom the Lord has called home in that amount of time. It has been a great many to be sure!

Hymn 677 in Lutheran Service Book, “For All the Saints,” reminds us that saints aren’t merely those “who from their labors rest.” The hymn also speaks of “Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,” fighting “as the saints who nobly fought of old.” That’s you and me. Washed in the blood of Jesus, you and I are saints as well. Yes, we’re also sinners at the same time. There’s a fancy Latin phrase theologians use to express this: simul justus et peccator. It means “simultaneously saint and sinner.” Therein lies the fight. “We feebly struggle.” Saint and sinner struggle daily. But saints have the comfort of what is sure and certain in Christ Jesus, the Church triumphant!

As I think about those who have died in the faith this past year, I also think of their loved ones, many of you whom I see weekend after weekend, and sometimes in between. The struggle for you continues, perhaps months later still grieving their loss. Take heart, brothers and sisters. You wear the same white robe as the saints in St. John’s vision in Revelation 7, a robe washed in the blood of the Lamb. Your sins don’t keep you from the presence of God. Clothed in Christ, you are privileged to be in His presence and live, receiving more than just a heartbeat, but life that pulses with the very heartbeat of the One who died and was raised again for you.

Where God is, there is the whole company of heaven. Think about that the next time you kneel before the Lord’s Table to receive the Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood. There you kneel in the presence of the Almighty, served by the Son of Man who came not to be served but to serve. There you kneel next to a brother or sister in Christ who is washed in the same cleansing blood of the Lamb. There you are closest also to those who have died in Christ Jesus, and now live with Him in eternity. Christ comes down to meet you, and the whole company of heaven with Him. His feast is “For All the Saints,” including you, in the here and now. That’s one of the most beautiful truths about Christian worship. It’s never just “me.” Rather, it’s the saints on earth and in heaven, together with angels and archangels, celebrating the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end. “Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia! Alleluia!”

You are Zion! And you are loved!

Pastor Fritsche

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