It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega!

Posted by Fr. Tere on 11/01/2015

11/01/2015   Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-6a; John 11:32-44

All Saints Sunday

It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Anglicans are a very odd bunch, often seeming to hold contradictory views. All Saints and All Faithful Departed (Nov 1 & 2) bring this out clearly. The 39 Articles, our founding documents, setting out our evangelical precepts, says: XXII. Of Purgatory. The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God. 

This sets up our dichotomy – if there is no purgatory, which is certainly not something found biblically, why should we pray for those who have died, saints or sinners? If we are not to invoke the Saints, why do we celebrate a day devoted to them?

In my humble opinion, we can live with the paradox. I am not going to pray to anyone but the Father, in the Name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, but I also know there is a connection between the Church already gathered and the Church here on earth. If there is a connection, we can certainly pray in remembrance of those who have died, especially those who have been martyred. I don’t think I can pray anyone out of hell and I don’t think the prayers of the saints are as effectual as those we pray on our own.

The story of Lazarus and the rich man shows the chasm between those who have died in Christ and those who haven’t – we cannot bridge that gap with prayer. The time to pray for those we love is before they die – that they chose Christ, that their heart, attitude and behavior might be changed by Jesus. Once life is over, there are no more choices to be made.

Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” He echoes that at the end of John’s Revelation: “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” Before the end of all time, It is done! There are already those in heaven, but now God brings forth a new heaven and a new earth that the “dwelling place of God is with man.” As he did when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” God again comes to us. He is not a God far away and uninterested in us, but a God who comes down to us, takes on our flesh, dies, and brings his kingdom to us.

While we wait for that, there are many paradoxes with which we must deal – praying in remembrance of the saints is a minor one.                                  Fr. Tere

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