“For all the saints who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia, Alleluia!” (LSB 677).
Today we remember those who lived like us, worshipped liked us, prayed like us and rejoiced in God’s word like us. They also failed like us. They did not love God with their whole hearts and they did not love their neighbor as themselves. Even those we remember dearest were broken sinners in a broken world, in desperate need of God’s grace and mercy. They were just like us.
But they are like us in that sense no longer. These saints of ages past, whether the famous prophets of the Old Testament or our great-grandmother who died in recent years, have left this sinful world in gladness.
Today we commemorate those who stood firm in faith, despite all their shortcomings; who did not give into the world and its desires to abandon the One True Faith, and as a result of God’s grace, are experiencing life everlasting.
Liturgist: “For the faithful who have gone before us and are with Christ, let us give thanks to the Lord.” Congregation: “Alleluia.” (or, during Lent, “Thanks be to God.”) Liturgist: “Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord.” (Evening Prayer, LSB)
We give thanks to God for those who came before us and for the good works they did in faith. Christ commissioned the Church, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 EV). It is by these faithful people that God handed down His message of salvation to us, evangelizing us through these people who brought us to the Word and to the Lord’s Table. These saints in faith did good works, those which we are incapable of doing outside of the faith. Every Christian has been taught the faith by other Christians or read Bibles typed and printed by other Christians. We remember these faithful ones who have gone before us, thanking God for them and rejoicing for them who live today with Our Lord free from sin and evil. At the same time, we pray that to our Lord to help us, save us, comfort us and defend us who are left in this world, looking forward to the day we too will be with Him forever as we enter into our silent, individual prayers.
Liturgist: “Rejoicing in the fellowship of all the saints, let us commend ourselves, one another, and our whole life to Christ, our Lord:” Congregation: “To You, O Lord.” (Evening Prayer, LSB).
We may mourn when these saints depart from us, missing their company and the times we have with them, but we rejoice exuberantly as we are drowned in the same baptismal waters that have covered them, when we come to the same Table, eating of the same Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and sing the same words of praise as they. Together always we are connected with our brothers and sisters across the globe and from all time in Christ Jesus, our Passover Lamb, who suffered in death that we may be brought up and not carried down when our time in this world comes to an end.
With the saints who have gone before us, yet remain with us in this holy fellowship, as an example, we push forward in the faith in this earthly habitation, not by our own reason or strength, but by that given to us by the Holy Spirit in the same way as to they. We commend ourselves and each other to Christ, Our Lord.
“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, [Jesus] said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46 KJV).
Come soon, Lord Jesus.