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Sunday, November 2, 2014

11022014 All Saints Sunday

Gospel Audio
Sermon Audio

November 2, 2014
Are we soldiers or subjects?
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

            This morning we celebrate All Saints Sunday here at Emmanuel.  On this one Sunday of the Church Year we remember all of the members, family and friends that have passed away since the last All Saints Celebration November 3, 2013.  Today is to be not only a summary of those lost in the last year, but an opportunity as a family of God to remember, reminisce and remind ourselves, not only of the lives of the people, but especially of what God did for them.  Right here in the baptismal font, or one like it in other churches, God reached down into the lives of the people we mourn and redeemed them by the Blood of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  Through the Water and Word of Baptism, God washed our loved ones clean and gave them the garment of salvation that ushered them in death to eternal life.  Now our loved ones have entered into God’s Holy presence and see God face to face.  What joy there is over one who has entered into God’s Eternal Kingdom and His Holy Presence!!!

            We who remain here mourn, sometimes even for many years, but we need to be reminded of a truth.  We to one day will be ushered into heaven as well.  But while we do journey on our pilgrimage here on earth, we need to ask a question “Are we subjects or soldiers?”

            We are subject to the reality that we will one day die.  But are we subjects without a cause or since we are baptized into Jesus Christ innocent life, death and resurrection, are we not then baptized as soldiers in to His Army of believers?  Are we not soldiers indoctrinated into the cause of Christ?  Are we not soldiers fighting for other’s freedom from oppression?  Are we not soldiers that are called into the mission of Jesus Christ for all of mankind?  Are we not soldiers for Jesus Christ?

            We are soldiers, each and every one of us, every man, woman and child.  When we were baptized in the font we enlisted in God’s Army of Believers to spread the message of the Gospel of Salvation.  Our orders were clear, to seek and serve the lowly, the downtrodden, the widowed, the weak and reach into the lives of those that had no hope to give the hope found in Jesus Christ.  We are God’s hands here on earth to reach out and minister in any and all capacities.

            We who gather here today to hear what Jesus Christ did on the cross of Calvary for all of mankind are empowered to minister.  Whether it is calling people who may not have been in church, speaking loving words of witness of the love of Christ to a stranger, friend or family member, or even our mere presence to support those who are in need of our individual and corporate prayers.  We are the people of God enlisted in the Army of God and empowered to do the work of God as God’s soldiers who no longer are subject to Satan.

            Jesus Christ when He set in motion the plan of salvation in the Garden and allowed Himself to be taken into custody, beaten, mocked and scourged by the soldiers, spit upon by the onlookers as He carried the Cross to Calvary.  Then nailed to the Cross for all of mankind, clearly understood and took upon Himself the uniform of a soldier, but also a leader that was willing to die for His subjects, meaning you and me.  Jesus Christ was willing to die for you and for me in order to set us free.  And that is exactly what has happened to those we remember today on All Saints Day.  Our friends, family and loved ones have been set free for all eternity and we will to one day.

            Dr. Henry Cloud summed up clearly what our opportunity is today.  He said, “Don't treat any single scene as if it were the whole movie.  Keep writing the script.  Respond to your current scene in a way that gets you to the good ending.”  The good ending we look for is to be honored as soldiers of the Cross of Jesus Christ.  No better story could be told than one that I read last Sunday afternoon from the One Spark Foundation.

            After our Reformation Service last week I was reading my Facebook Feed on my phone.  There was a story that not only caught my attention, but touched me deeply.  The story detailed the experience of an airline pilot that had a sticky situation, but which has become more common in the last few years.  The pilot told of his experience of meeting a young Sergeant in the Army that was escorting the remains of a fallen comrade back to his family for burial.  The dignity shown by the pilot, flight crew and the Sergeant was not only professional, but full of compassion for the final mission of the young private who was ‘going home’.

            Following his meeting the Sergeant and thanking him for his service to his country and the family during such a difficult time, the pilot was later informed that not only was the Sergeant on board, but the Private’s wife, 2 year old daughter and his Father and Mother all were escorting the Private home.  Due to circumstances beyond the pilots control the family was unable to see the container before its being loaded onto the plane.  And the plane’s destination was a major hub for many airlines so the family would likely be unable to see the soldiers casket upon arrival.  In true compassion for a soldier that had given his life for his country, the pilot went above and beyond the call of duty and through special channels contacted his controller for special instructions and the ability to allow the family the opportunity to personally greet their loved one, who was currently below their feet in the cargo hold.

            Shortly before descent into the airport the Captain received the approval and instructions for this final faithful journey of the Private.  But there was another problem.  Like all flights the pilot knew that once the plane landed and the ‘seat belt sign’ had been turned off all the passengers would jump up and rush to get off the airplane with no concern for this soldiers family.  So once he landed, he radioed the tower and received permission to stop short of the gate.

            After stopping short of the gate, the Captain of the plane came on the intercom and informed the entire airplane of the soldier’s mission of the Sergeant and the Private’s family that was escorting their son, husband and Father home.  In unheard of fashion the family experienced the most grace filled event on their most difficult journey home.  Not one person moved from their seats as the family gathered their belongings and disembarked.  The family was even thanked for the Private’s service, words of comfort, appreciation and applause filled the aircraft as they moved through the plane.  So moved was the cabin crew and passengers many were seen with tears running down their cheeks because of the outpouring of love, compassion and support during the family’s most difficult journey.

            The love shown the soldier and military family is what we have to look forward to when we enter into eternity in heaven.  A rousing applause, hearing the words, “Well done good and faithful servant!”  It is not for what we have done in and of ourselves, but what Jesus Christ has done through each of us soldiers.  For God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary in order that we His soldiers in His Army will be welcomed into the company of saints and be with Him for all eternity.  We who gather here today on All Saints Sunday celebrate our brother’s and sister’s who have entered eternal glory.  No longer do our loved one’s struggle and today we remember God’s victory for them and us on the Cross of Calvary and for all of mankind.  Thanks be to God for the victory for all of mankind and all of us soldiers gathered here to celebrate All Saints Sunday today.  AMEN.

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