Beloved in Christ,
I am jotting down these thoughts on November 6, the day before we celebrate All Saints Day in our Church. You know, I often stroll through our columbarium and remember all the Saints interred there. I see faces, warm smiles, and feel hugs I received from many of these good folks in years past. I recall the various ministries these Saints were engaged in during their days on this plane of God’s multifaceted universe. When I am in the columbarium, I truly feel surrounded by a great “Cloud of Witnesses.”
Episcopalians are generally not fond of the Book of Revelations. Perhaps it is because it has been said to make predictions about the “end times” and has been used by some Christians to judge others and create fear in “non-believers.” It may surprise you to learn that Revelations was written to the early Church to comfort the Church at a time when it was sorely persecuted. Christians were being expelled from synagogues. Laws were promulgated against gatherings of Christians. When two or three gathered in the name of Christ, they were committing a crime punishable by death. Revelations was a reminder to the Body of Christ that no matter how bad things got, and they were pretty bad, God is in charge and the Kingdom of God will prevail. The Truth, that is, the way of Jesus, cannot be permanently defeated.
We can all take comfort in Revelations 21: 3-4:
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
We miss those Saints we loved and who are no longer among us. We grieve for them. This year my mother passed away, and I grieve for her. In this year of so much loss, I dare say that each one of us is aware of someone who moved into that Great Cloud of Witnesses.
Saints who touched our lives, parents, and siblings who loved us, partners whose love made us better people, church members who visited us when we were sick or in distress cause our hearts to ache when they leave this plane and slip from this life. They wiped away our tears, they encouraged us, and they made us whole. We miss them.
But the truth is they are still with us, and we are with them. The departed are among us. We can sense them as we worship together. Revelations promises us that in the day of God’s full presence among us, humankind will live together in a new community. This new community, this Beloved community, is the purpose of all human history. Humanity is being drawn into the Glory, Comfort, and Peace of God. We shall enter into a never-ending communion with the One who created us, loved us, and died for us. God’s purpose has always been to be fully with us. And our purpose, our life’s goal, our destiny is to be enfolded in the loving arms of God forever along with those who went before us.
Grace and Peace,