ALL SAINTS REMEMBRANCE
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· Masks are required by those not vaccinated as well as social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship in Calvin Hall
Merry Iverson's Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur Judy Welcher, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Kay Werner, Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan, Bonnie Pillers, Deb Weller, and the Gaulrapp Family.
*CALL TO WORSHIP Psalm 145:1-5, NCV
I praise your greatness, my God the King; I will praise you forever and ever.
I will praise you every day; I will praise you forever and ever.
The Lord is great and worthy of our praise; no one can understand how great he is.
Parents will tell their children what you have done.
They will retell your mighty acts, wonderful majesty, and glory.
And I will think about your miracles.
God, our King, we come bringing our praise and thanksgiving for the gift of life. We thank you for loved ones and friends, for this community of faith and for the witness to your love and blessing through all time and in every nation. As we pause to remember the saints who have gone before us, may we be inspired to give our lives daily in your service and praise witnessing to your love. Amen.
*HYMN For All the Saints #526 (You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION
In ancient times those who entered the holy place to worship purified themselves first. This is what we do when we confess our sin and receive God’s forgiveness offered to us through Christ. Therefore, let us confess our sins that we may fully worship God.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION (traditional)
Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your holy name.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE Hebrews 10:10, CEB
“We have been made holy by God’s will through the offering of Jesus Christ’s body once for all.” Through Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE
(Please greet those around you as we all say these words in unison.)
May the peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
God of the Living Word, by your Holy Spirit open our ears and our hearts to receive what you want us to learn of you this day. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT LESSON Job 19:23-27a, NLT
23 “Oh, that my words could be recorded.
Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument,
24 carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead,
engraved forever in the rock.
25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
26 And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
27 I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!
GOSPEL LESSON Luke 20:27-38, NLT
27 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. 28 They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 29 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. 30 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died. 31 Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children. 32 Finally, the woman also died. 33 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!”
34 Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. 35 But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. 36 And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.
37 “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 So he is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to him.”
SERMON God of the Living
In our Gospel reading today, the Sadducees who didn’t even believe in resurrection tried to trip Jesus up with one of their many trick questions. It relates to the Levirate law that appears in some Old Testament stories. If a woman becomes a widow without bearing a son to carry on the family name, it is the duty of the next closest male relative to marry her. So if there were seven brothers who each had to marry the same woman, who was her husband in the resurrection?
My family has something of the reverse situation. When Aunt Rhoda died, Uncle George married her younger sister, Aunt Grace. I wasn’t curious about what happened in heaven. I’d probably already heard this Gospel story. I was curious about what how they were buried. I’ve visited the Klemmedson family section of the cemetery at Sycamore IL. Aunt Rhoda and Uncle George are buried side by side, while Aunt Grace is buried head-to-head with him. I thought it was a good solution to honor both marriages.
Of course the Sadducees weren’t looking for solutions or even real answers regarding resurrection and marriage. They were testing Jesus’ theology and with it his patience. Jesus’ answer was that the resurrected children of God will not live the same way we do in this life. Marriage will not be a concern then. For those with a resurrection body that will not die, there is no need to worry about carrying on the family line. That concern belongs to this earthly life. Jesus is suggesting they have asked the wrong question. It is illogical and irrelevant because the levirate law does not apply in the resurrected life. But in our resurrected body we will become like angels. Note that it says like angels, not that we become angels. Jesus went on to claim that even Moses recognized God as still the God of those who have died and are now alive in God.
As we celebrate All Saints Day, let’s take a look at some more of what the Bible teaches us about resurrection.
Our Old Testament lesson came from Job’s story and his response to his friends trying to reason with him regarding the many tragedies he has suffered. He has lost his health, his crops, and flocks, and even his children. But in his suffering he insists that he has been faithful to God. He seeks to discuss this with God more directly and wishes his words would be preserved for a time when that judgment can take place.
In the middle of this passage is a line we often use on Easter Sunday regarding Jesus’ resurrection. It’s even the beginning of a classic Easter hymn. “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Job continues his faith statement with the belief that even after his own death he will see God with his own eyes. This suggests faith that he too will be resurrected in some bodily sense.
A key word in this statement is the word Redeemer. Job believes his Redeemer ultimately is God. Christians have attributed this title to Jesus, God’s Son. To understand what any of that means, we need to know how the word Redeemer is used in the Old Testament law. From Leviticus to Numbers to Deuteronomy there are multiple situations from which one might be redeemed. Suppose someone lost property or were themselves sold into slavery to pay a debt. Their Redeemer could buy back the person or the property. For example, Boaz bought back Naomi’s property so that she and Ruth would not lose it to someone else. He was called their Kinsman Redeemer. A Redeemer could avenge the death of a relative or marry a widow to preserve the family line of a deceased relative. That last is the Levirate law mentioned earlier, and Boaz also exercised that right by marrying Ruth.
What does it mean to say that God or Jesus is our Redeemer? This is a significant part of how we understand God’s mercy and grace in forgiving us. We humans are easily enslaved by our sin causing a debt we can never repay ourselves. It’s as if we have sold our souls to sin. When we say that Jesus is our Redeemer, we are saying that he bought us back from that slavery. Jesus paid our debt. He did so with his own life. That redemption allows us to enjoy a new life, here on earth and even beyond death, so that like Job we will one day see God with our own eyes. Redemption leads to our ultimate resurrection.
Another image of the resurrected life I have used in nearly every memorial service I have conducted. It is the promises of John 14, and in Bible Study a couple weeks ago the Wednesday morning group and I learned a whole new layer of meaning to this image of resurrection. John 14 is part of Jesus’ earnest words to his disciples after the Last Supper, before they went to the Garden of Gethsemane. In verses 2-3 Jesus promised, “2 My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? 3 When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be
What we learned is that this language comes from the Jewish marriage customs of the day. When a family fixed an engagement or betrothal between a future bride and groom, there was a formal ceremony, and a bride price or dowry was paid to the bride’s family. This is another way of understanding Jesus’ sacrifice or payment for us, that Jesus paid the dowry for his future bride, the Church, or for each of us who are to be part of that marriage family in the resurrected life.
After the engagement, the groom must return to his own father’s house to build an addition where they will live as a married couple. The bride, of course, must stay with her own family until that new room is ready. The groom would say to her in effect, I am going to my Father’s house to prepare a room for you, then I will return and take you there to be with me. That is what Jesus was saying to his disciples and to all of us who believe that he is indeed God’s Son, that he is preparing a place so we can live with him in his Father’s house in the resurrection.
Another resurrection image comes from Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth. In 1st Corinthians 15 Paul first refers to Jesus’ resurrection appearances. “He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve, 6 and then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once—…. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me.”
Paul goes on to share what he believes about death and resurrection comparing our earthly life to Adam and our resurrection to a new spiritual life in Christ. Listen to verses 22-23. “22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.” (NLT) Later he talks about what kind of body we
will have in the resurrection, for just as Jesus said, it will not be the same as our earthly bodies. Paul writes, “49 Just as we were made like the man of earth, so we will also be made like the man of heaven…. 54 So this body that can be destroyed will clothe itself with that which can never be destroyed, and this body that dies will clothe itself with that which can never die.” (CEV) In our new resurrected life we will have new spiritual bodies which do not decay, do not have disease, are not broken, but are whole and healthy and suited to that new life with Christ in God’s heavenly realms.
Perhaps this continued to be a concern to the Corinthians because Paul writes of death and the resurrected life again in his second letter. In Chapter 4 we read, “Though outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are renewed day by day. 17 Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine.” (GW) I find that comforting on the days my body is uncooperative, don’t you? And just as this body is wearing out, I am aware that my faith and inner life has grown stronger. Chapter 5 continues this theme. “We know that our body—the tent we live in here on earth—will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever.” (v.1, NCV) To me this is Paul’s version of what Jesus said to the disciples, that a room has been prepared for us in God’s House. We won’t need these bodies anymore because God and Jesus have prepared something better for us.
These are some glimpses of the resurrection we anticipate as believers. They are images and promises we hang onto not only for ourselves, but perhaps even more so when we lose a loved one. We hold onto our faith that God has already called our loved one home to live in a new spiritual body in a home prepared for them as part of God’s family forever.
In that extended family home there are gatherings around the table of the heavenly banquet. This also goes with the marriage and family traditions in the time of Jesus. When the bride was brought into the new home, the wedding reception lasted for seven days, a true feast. We perhaps glimpse that when we take Holy Communion together. I also thought about it this summer when my mom died. Her cousin Carol died a few days before mom. I thought of the two of them skipping off together hand in hand to join a great Klemmedson family reunion in heaven. I imagine mom reunited with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Ron, my great grandparents, and lots of other family members. I cannot begrudge my mom enjoying that party. I look forward to my own turn to join them, but I’m not done serving God here on earth or enjoying the wonders God offers in this life yet.
As you name those you love today who have already found their new life, their new home in God’s heavenly House, I invite you to offer them peace and take with you the faith that you will be with them when your time here is complete. Give thanks to God for everything they meant to you while they were here with you. Take what you learned from them and put it into practice while you still live this life. Daily put your trust in God for this life and for the next.
*HYMN When We Are Living #400
(You may be seated.)
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
now and forever. Amen.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
Holy God, Lord of heaven and earth, we affirm that we are your people and our lives belong to you. We offer ourselves in service and as a witness to those around us with every day you give us. Amen.
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Apostle’s Creed (Ecumenical) p. 14
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE US
(You are invited to light a candle for loved ones lost this year or that you are remembering from years past.)
*HYMN God Be With You Till We Meet Again #540
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.