Monday, November 01, 2010

Fr. Wells' bulletin inserts

ALL SAINTS' DAY

November 1

In the harvest-time of the year we celebrate God's great harvest, the harvest of souls, when He will make His final separation of the wheat from the tares. All Saints' Day is the reminder that we are called to be saints and to join the innumerable throng of all who are redeemed in Christ, including those who have gone before us and all who will come after us. We have a picture of this multitude in today's reading from Revelation, “clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” All Saints' Day is a good time for us to rethink clearly what is revealed to us in the Bible about the after-life. There is much confused and murky thinking on this matter even among traditional Christians.

At the moment of physical death, there is a separation of soul and body. The body is said to “fall asleep in the Lord, waiting for its final resurrection. The soul continues to be conscious. If it is a Christian soul, it is permitted to have sweet fellowship with Christ and all His vast throng of redeemed people. These redeemed souls are waiting in an “intermediate state” between their previous earthly life and their eventual resurrection. This intermediate state is sometimes called Paradise or even Heaven. It is a temporary, not a final, condition.

The is no basis for supposing that souls in this intermediate state suffer any kind of penalties whatever, for sins committed while on earth in the body. The term purgatory is therefore to be avoided as misleading. Many believe that souls in the intermediate state continue to grow spiritually and our Prayer Book seems to teach it. St Paul may hint at this when he writes, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you may perform it until [bring it to completion at] the day of Jesus Christ' (Phil. 1:6). What is certain is that all the faithful departed, and our own loved ones who died in the Lord, are happy and blessed with Christ. God grant that we may join them when He calls us.

At the “Last Day,” when Christ shall come again, all mankind will be raised up. Our bodies will be reconstituted and made glorious, just as His body was raised up on the first Easter. We will see, touch, and hear each other again. This will be in “the new heaven and the new earth,” the new creation already underway but not complete until Christ comes. While this is mysterious to us and most details not yet revealed, we simply must think of our own resurrection as realistically and graphically as we think of His.

In the meantime, while we wait for Christ's coming, we delight in the assurance that all the faithful departed, both the “heroes of the faith” and obscure mediocre Christians, are tightly bound in one great fellowship of the saints. That is what we celebrate today. LKW

6 comments:

Nathan said...

While this is mysterious to us and most details not yet revealed, we simply must think of our own resurrection as realistically and graphically as we think of His.

A most poignant observation, or shall we say, admonition. And if we are to bring many to Christ, isn't it incumbent upon us that we stress this point.

Joseph said...

Please elaborate on how this is different from the Rapture our Assembly of God friends are waiting for any day now

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Joseph, the difference is in these words: "At the 'Last Day,' when Christ shall come again..." Now that's Biblical, whereas Jesus piloting a starship to beam us up to the heavens, while human history continues, is not.

Joseph said...

fThank you Fr. Hart. I work with many people-including my boss- who are waiting for the Rapture. These people are very nice but they have basically checked out of reality. To me it seems very "L Ron Hubbard-ish".

I just avoid the topic altogether. I have read a couple books on the subject and feel much better about refuting the Star Trek version of Judgement Day... we will neither know the time nor the hour.

Tom said...

Joseph,

Let me recommend a book on the subject: "The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation" The author is Dr. Barbara Rossing, Professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.

Tom McHenry+

veriword: angfel???

Joseph said...

Tom

Thank you. I have read that book. It was available at the Jacksonville public library. In fact it slid under the car seat and was checked out for 2 months .. oops