From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers, but also all who have gone before us. The author of Hebrews 12 encourages Christians to remember that a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us encouraging us and is cheering us on.
Charles Wesley picks up this theme in his hymn that appears in the United Methodist Hymnal as “Come, Let Us Join Our Friends Above.” In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages: “Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone, for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.
On All Saint’s Sunday our
minds are focused on life beyond the grave. Our imaginations take us beyond the clouds and we begin to ponder on our heavenly home. A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father. Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed, “Oh, daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be”?
Jesus says, “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (Rev. 21:6). Jesus knows that this present world leaves our souls dried up, our bodies shriveled up, and our minds gasping for more. The hurts and pains of this world leave us longing for a more perfect world. A world where our longing is fulfilled, where tears are wiped away, and where pain and suffering and death is no more. In a world that is tough and unsatisfying, we need to know that there is another world coming where all our deep longings will be met in perfection. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
One day soon “the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast” (Isaiah 25:6). And with crutches thrown aside, bellies empty no more, shackles broken, standing upright, bodies put back together, and minds restored, there will be a celebration parade of God’s redeemed moving to the songs of praise to the one who says, “Come. And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift” (Rev. 22:17). He declares, “Surely I am coming soon.” And the church says, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).