"O when the saints, go marching in, O when the saints go marching in, O how I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in!" (I don't know if that is exactly how the song goes but if you know me, you would know that it really doesn't matter. I will sing it anyway.) This last Sunday was the celebration of All Saints' Day, which is actually November 1st. I love the reading from Revelation 7. It reminds me of those who have gone before - those who no longer live among us but live forever with the Lord.
When I think of All Saints' Day, I tend to think of the loved ones being in heaven. I fear that I might not focus enough on the resurrection at that time. As we learned at the SID Pastor's Conference this last fall, we need to remember the importance and power of the resurrection. Yet at the same time, we do still need to know that our loved ones are in heaven right now - spiritually, their souls. While we wait for the resurrection, we are not in some "soul sleep" or some ambiguous "never never land" from which we will emerge on the Last Day. It is as Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in paradise." Today! Not some distance time that we wait to arrive.
That gives me lots of comfort - knowing that my mom and pop (and step dads) and father-in-law and aunts and a whole host of others are in heaven now, enjoying the wonders and the pleasures of being in the presence of the Lord.
What will it be like? We don't have an answer for that question. In 1 John we read, "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he (Jesus0 appears, we shall be like him (Jesus)." (1 John 3:2 ESV) We do not know what we will be like. We do know this one reality, it will be better than life here on earth. Why? Two reason: 1) We will be in the presence of God Himself. 2) We will be perfect, holy, sinless, free of temptation, trials and tribulations. Those both cause us to rejoice!
All Saints' Day brings all that to my mind. It causes me to rejoice in the life that I have been given in Jesus Christ. It reminds me of those who have already entered into that wonderful, heavenly relationship with God. And it puts my heart at peace. Death is never fun. Death is never wonderful. But we know that Christ has overcome death and has given life. In that we rejoice.
I know it is late (today is Dec. 8th) but "Happy All Saints' Day to you." Celebrate the eternal life you have been given in Christ Jesus.