All Saints’ Sunday (Year C - Lutheran Service Book readings)
November 7, 2010
1 John 3 is a vision of the now and a vision of the future.
I want you to look at this vision with me this morning. Take out the yellow insert in your bulletin. There you have 1 John 3 printed again. Hear the passage again and hear how it’s a vision of the now and the future.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
It’s a vision of the now and a vision of the future.
It’s a vision of now—because now we are children of God. It’s a vision of the future—because in the future, in the great day of Christ’s return we will really see who God has made us to be.
Thinking of that vision, I want you to listen to a portion of a song by the Christian band Delirious? You’ve got the lyrics on your insert. The song, “All God’s Children,” helps paint that vision of the now and the future, the vision of what it means that we are God’s children, the vision of what it means that God has taken us to be in His family.
Light will come to those who wait;
From the shadows, souls awake;
For these are the days when the nations will bow at the coming king.
All our kingdoms fall with the mountains,
And our empires crash into the sea;
For these are the days when the nations will rise for the coming king.
All God’s children, we will sing hallelujah,
All God’s children, we will sing hallelujah.
Hope will come to those who wait
As the heart of heaven breaks;
For these are the days when the least of us all see the coming king,
For these are the days when injustice will fall at the coming king.
All God’s children,
we will sing hallelujah,
All God’s children,
we will sing hallelujah.
The song is a vision of the now. Now we wait for the light. Now we wait in the shadows. Now we wait for the kingdoms and empires of this world to fall. Now we wait in hope. And now all God’s children sing Hallelujah
The song is a vision of the future. One day the light will dawn on all people. One day we will wake from the shadows. One day all nations will bow before Christ. One day the kingdoms and empires of this world will fall, replaced by the kingdom of heaven. One day the nations will rise in honor of Christ the King. One day hope will break wide open. One day the least of us will see the king. One day the injustice will be over.
We wait in this vision. We wait for Christ to return again. The ultimate fulfillment of this vision will come the day that Christ returns to bring this world to an end, to bring a new world, to bring us to eternal life. The ultimate fulfillment of this vision from 1 John comes in the vision that John writes about in Revelation 7, the vision of the uncountable multitude being with Christ for eternity, that’s a vision of God’s children after Christ has returned.
We wait in this vision. We wait and sing in hope—hallelujah. We wait and tell others about this hope—they are God’s children, too. We wait and find others who are waiting—find others searching for the light, searching for hope. We invite others to come and sing hallelujah. We invite others to come and watch for His returning.
1 John 3 is a vision of the now and a vision of the future. It’s a vision for now about the future. It’s a vision for the days when you are overwhelmed by the sin and evil surrounding you. It’s a vision for the days when your own sin scares you. It’s a vision for the days when you feel as if God couldn’t possibly still be present or paying attention or real. It’s a vision that goes against everything this world is telling you. It’s a vision that holds out hope, holds out the light, holds out the future, holds out the great and wondrous hope that God is true and real and present and victorious.
It’s a vision of the now and a vision of the future. It’s a vision for now about the future. It’s a vision when you’re aching in your spirit now. It’s a vision to spark hallelujahs about the future.
Today, as we celebrate All Saints’ Sunday, celebrate our loved ones who have died in the faith, we celebrate that they wait in hope also. We celebrate that they now sing hallelujah in the presence of Christ. We remember that one day we will all be gathered together to celebrate the King, sing hallelujah.
This vision in 1 John isn’t just a vision of the hope we have of dying in the faith, this vision in 1 John is a vision of hope for the Second coming of Christ, that’s the ultimate fulfillment of all these promises.
But until that day, there’s a way in which our songs sound like this Delirious? song—hopeful but mournful, radiating with praise but still subdued in waiting. We wait in hope. We wait for the light. We wait to be awoken from the darkness of this world. We wait for the kingdoms of this world to be conquered. We wait in hope.
But until that day, still we sing hallelujah because Now we are God’s children. Now we are His people. Now we have salvation. Now we have hope. Now we have forgiveness. Now we have peace. Now we are God’s children. We don’t have to wait until that day to sing hallelujah because right now we have much to sing about. Right now we have much to praise Him for. Right now we are His children.
So do not be disturbed by the things you see around you—they will not last, they will not win. Do not be disturbed by the sin you see in yourself—your sin will not separate you from God forever. Do not be disturbed as if somehow by your sin you are no longer God’s children.
What you can’t see is that being God’s child is the permanent thing, the thing that will last. What you see right now are the ways you’re separate from God, the ways your actions go against God, but that will not last forever, that’s not who you will always be. God has given you a new status, has made you to be His child, has taken you into His family forever, that’s your permanent, eternal status, that’s the status that’s hard to see but is yours right now.