Wednesday Words – All Saints Day

October 30, 2019

Pr. Paul Cannon

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.

- Ephesians 1:18

There is a modern notion that hope is a weak thing. You’ve heard the expression, “A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush.” The lesson? Don’t hope for what you can’t see.

A more direct way to say it came from the famous German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche who said, “Hope is in reality the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torment of man.”

Perhaps in different contexts, you could find wisdom in both sayings. But a world where people abandon hope, seems like a bleak and sad world to live in.

That’s why, in the Christian context, we speak of hope in two ways: hope for the earth, and the ultimate hope of salvation. Those two things are what we celebrate on All Saints Day.

Ultimate hope, and earthly hope almost seem contradictory – even some Christians feel this way. I’ve known of Christians who claim they don’t need to recycle, in part because of their faith in the ultimate hope of the resurrection (and probably a healthy dose of laziness, if we’re being honest). Who needs to take care of the earth when God going to create a new one anyway?

However, a resurrection hope is empty if it doesn’t offer relief to earthly suffering. Yes, the hope we have in Jesus is an ultimate hope that one day we will all be reunited with loved ones. But Jesus’ life and ministry was also about bringing his Kingdom to earth – the hope of bringing God’s justice, peace, and love into the world (not to take you out of it!).

In a truly Lutheran fashion, our hope is BOTH/AND. On All Saints Day, we proclaim God’s hope is something that we strive to bring to earth, and is something that is fully realized when we pass on to be with all the saints in heaven.