Sermon - All Saints Day

Our Tears

Scripture Readings for All Saints Day

He will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces…
— Isaiah 25:8a
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more.
— Revelation 21:4a
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved...Jesus began to weep.
— John 11:33+35

This image of grief is a powerful image, and one, I feel, with which all people can connect. Most, if not all adults, have experienced grief. For those who have not, including some of the youth in my congregation, I believe this image is one that has often been described in books, seen on television, and portrayed on stage and screen.

In the opening of the sermon, I like the rise and fall of the emotion, the build to the release and the feeling that all is spent in the process of grieving. A key element focuses on the flow of tears that are shed when in the midst of grief, from rushing down our faces until one last tear softly rolls down our cheeks. The description of this last tear, gives the impression that we are left empty. It is, not only an emotional outpouring, it is a physical expression, leaving us weak and exhausted.

Language plays a key role in fully conveying an image. In descriptions like tempest of tears, rushing torrent from our eyes, dampened cheeks, and pools of sadness, I hope to reinforce the image of tears of grief.

In choosing the image of tears, it is my intention to move from portraying tears of grief to tears of joy. The images of pain, sorrow, struggle, and grief is juxtaposed with the images of hope, joy, triumph, and rejoicing. Tears are not just shed in sadness. Tears are often cried in moments of great happiness. By focusing my image on tears, I am able to offer both emotions with a single image.

Using the same structure from the beginning of my sermon allows me to more strongly contrast at the end the emotion and physical expression of tears of joy from the opening image of grief. This portrayal is no less universal. Everyone has experienced overwhelming joy, and if not, everyone has experienced this image in books, television, theatre, or movies. The despair of the opening in replaced with strength, energy, and life. The vocabulary still reinforces the image of tears, yet changes the sentiment: renewing streams, cascading waters from our eyes, and glistening cheeks.

In my attempt to use tears to portray both grief and joy, I hope to effectively express our struggle with sin and death, and more fully proclaim the Gospel promise of grace, love and life. In both, we are given reason to cry, in both we shed tears, in both we encounter God’s presence. At the start of the sermon, kneeling beside us, grieving with us, and offering us comfort. At the end, raising us up, giving us hope, and fulfilling God’s promise of life.

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
the King of glory passes on his way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
— For All The Saints

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