All Saints’ Sunday Worship 2021

Isaiah 25:6-9

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world and those who dwell therein.
For the Lord has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers. 
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord,
and who may stand in God’s holy place?
Those of innocent hands and purity of heart,
who do not swear on God’s being, nor do they pledge by what is false.
They shall receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of their salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek you, O Lord,
of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob. 
Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O everlasting doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O everlasting doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
Truly, the Lord of hosts is the King of glory. 

Revelation 21:1-6a

I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint John 11:32-44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Even in the best of times living life in this very human world can be tricky and challenging. And we ALL know that these certainly don’t feel like the best of times.

This year – like last year – has been hard. Some might say really – really hard. The times we are living through are full of trials and tribulations that have taken a real toll on all of us.

This pandemic has left deep – lasting scars on our daily lives. And on our hearts and our souls.

Covid-19 has changed us. ALL of us . . .

So much pain. So much loss. So much anger and hurt and human suffering and sickness. So much lost opportunity and so many lost lives.

As of this week – researchers announced we have lost over 5 million precious human lives to Covid-19. And we know this pandemic isn’t over yet. We know more people will die because of this dreadful virus.   More people will be scarred.   More people will be left grieving.   There will be more loss and more sorrow and more pain to be endured.

We wish this wretched pandemic were over but it isn’t. We wish we were on the other side – but we are not. We wish Covid-19 was behind us and in our rearview mirror – but not yet.

We still have work to do.

It can be so physically – emotionally – and spiritually exhausting to live under the pressure of a pandemic. We were already dealing with quite enough – thank you very much – and then the pandemic made everything so much more complicated.

Being human is hard enough and now all of this too!?!?

We can feel so helpless and hopeless. Overwhelmed. We can feel lost and alone in the world. We can feel like no one understands what we are going through.   Like no one gets what we are thinking and feeling. Like no one understands how hard it is to be us. How hard all of this human humanness is!?!

There are times in all of our lives when we find ourselves feeling like no one else understands what we are going through. That no one else gets it!

There are times in all of our lives when we wish others could see our lives aren’t easy-peasy. That we are doing our best and trying really hard. That we are giving it our all.

We all find ourselves wishing other folks could walk a mile or two in our shoes.

We long for empathy. And just to be understood.

Well – let me assure you – someone else does get it. Someone else does understand. Someone else has walked a mile in your shoes.

Your Lord and Savior understands. Jesus gets it. Jesus knows how you feel – and what you are going through.

Jesus has been there and felt that. Jesus has walked in your very human shoes.

In our Gospel reading for today Jesus learns his beloved friend Lazarus has died.

As soon as – Jesus learns Lazarus has died – Jesus and the disciples set off for Bethany.

As they draw close to Bethany – Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary hurry out to meet Jesus. Their hearts are broken – because these two sisters loved their brother deeply.

And when Jesus sees his friends’ grief and pain and their tears – Jesus is overtaken by his own grief and he begins to weep.

Jesus wept. Jesus cried!

Jesus – who is God. Jesus – who is our Lord and Savior – weeps when his beloved friend Lazarus dies. Jesus did not pretend to cry like an actor does. Jesus did not preach a sermon about how no one should be sad because death isn’t eternal for Christians. Rather – Jesus wept.

Jesus wept because his beloved friend was dead.   Jesus cried because death is sad – because grief makes us feel like crying. Jesus cried because he is a human being just like us and his friend’s death caused his heart to ache.

There are times in all of our faith journeys when we start to forget that Jesus was both God and human. We tend to put more emphasis on the fact that Jesus is God and to let the human part of Jesus slip from our attention.

But when we fail to remember that Jesus was really and truly a human being – we start to forget something very important about our Lord.

We forget is that Jesus gets it.

He knows what it is like to be one of us.

Jesus knows what it is like to be hungry and tired.   Because he got tired and hungry too.

Jesus knows what it is like to be misunderstood.

Jesus knows what it is like to have people criticize you and judge you and to say hurtful things about you.

Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted.

Jesus knows what it is like to hurt and feel pain and to get sick.

Jesus also knows the fun and joy of spending time with friends and family.

Jesus knows what it means to love and he knows what it means to mourn when loved ones die.

Jesus even knows what it is like to feel afraid and alone in the world.

Jesus really and truly does know what it is like to be a human being. Jesus has walked a mile in your shoes – in fact Jesus has walked thousands of miles in your shoes.

Jesus doesn’t just imagine what you are going through. Jesus actually knows what it is like. Jesus understands and Jesus cares.

Your Lord and Savior gets it. Jesus cares and Jesus loves you. Truly this is Good News. AMEN.

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