Our King, Jesus, is coming. He first came with palms and the singing and shouting of the crowd into Jerusalem. He comes as a triumphant king, yet he is riding on to die. Through the waving palms and the crowded street we see the true willingness of our Lord to suffer in our place. Our King, Jesus, is coming. But now we wait for him to come on the clouds. We cling to God’s gracious love in Christ as we prepare and wait for the Savior’s return.
“He will come to judge the living and the dead.” We confess it every Sunday, but often live like those are empty words. Number your days aright and gain a heart of wisdom! Jesus wants us to be the waiting Church—the Church that watches for her Savior and cries, “Come, Lord Jesus!” As we journey through these latter days, however, our vigilance slips, and our hearts grow drowsy because the bridegroom seems to be taking so long. So while we wait, the Church prays, “Keep us ever watchful for the coming of your Son that we may sit with him and all your holy ones at the marriage feast in heaven.” (Prayer of the Day)
The Day of the Lord is drawing near, and it will be “a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation” (Zeph. 1:14, 15). We know that there will be a judgment, a separating of the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the chaff, the righteous and the unrighteous. So listen to the prophet Isaiah this morning: “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Is. 1:17). Be “good and faithful” stewards of His property (Matt. 25:21). Live by faith in His free gift of forgiveness, and multiply His goods in the loving forgiveness of your neighbor. “The Master of those servants” settles His accounts with them by the gracious reckoning of His Gospel (Matt. 25:19). Likewise, “do not continue to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you test and approve what is the will of God—what is good, pleasing, and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). You can do this because “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Is. 1:18). On that day, works and efforts will be for nothing, but those who fear, love and trust in the Lord will be saved.
Last week, on Tuesday, November 1, the Church celebrated All Saints' Day. Today, we observe this feast. To “observe” a feast means we celebrate the feast day in a Divine Service not held on the specific day the feast is celebrated. The Feast of All Saints’ is the most comprehensive of the days of commemoration, encompassing the entire scope of that great cloud of witnesses with which we are surrounded (Hebrews 12:1). It holds before the eyes of faith that great multitude which no man can number: all the saints of God in Christ––from every nation, race, culture, and language––who have come "out of the great tribulation...who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9, 14). As such, it sets before us the full height and depth and breadth and length of our dear Lord's gracious salvation (Ephesians 3:17-19). It shares with Easter a celebration of the resurrection, since all those who have died with Christ Jesus have also been raised with Him (Romans 6:3-8). It shares with Pentecost a celebration of the ingathering of the entire Church catholic–in heaven and on earth, in all times and places––in the one Body of Christ, in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Just as we have all been called to the one hope that belongs to our call, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:4-6). And the Feast of All Saints shares with the final Sundays of the Church Year an eschatological focus on the life everlasting and a confession that "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18). In all of these emphases, the purpose of this feast is to fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, that we might not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:2,3).