Sermon for All Saints’ Day
As we listen for the word of God, let us pray:
God, almighty in love,
you have come among us in Christ,
whose word brings life to the dead;
keep us looking for that day
when tears will be no more,
and all suffering and loss will pass away;
when with all your saints,we shall see your face and be like your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, now and for ever. Amen.
This past week, many of us have shed tears and grieved and felt helpless as we prepared for N’s funeral, and as it took place on Friday with all the amazing pageantry of a military funeral. And there were tears there too, some in the eyes of soldiers.
In the Lectionary readings for All Saints’ Day, there are two verses about tears.
John 11.35 says, in the old KJV language, ‘Jesus wept.’
Revelation 21 says, ‘God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.’
Which verse appeals more to you? It’s a hard choice. Each one is of immeasurable help to the Christian believer.
Jesus wept. Jesus wept in the face of death. Some of you may remember Neville Wran, the former Labor premier of New South Wales, who famously said back in 1983, ‘Balmain boys don’t cry.’ Well, Jesus cried, and probably Balmain boys do too these days, now it’s gentrified and in Paul Keating’s words, populated by ’the basket weavers of Balmain’.
If I say it’s good to shed tears when you need to, I am probably going to find general agreement. You may have heard the Jewish proverb, ‘Tears are the medicine of the soul’. That doesn’t mean everyone here will find it easy to cry, especially us blokes.
We males are taught early that crying is girlie stuff. (Is that so bad??!) I read during the week of an eight year old girl who was about to go into surgery. She said, ‘May I cry or should I be brave?’ She wasn’t just having a wart removed. This little girl was about to have her leg amputated. I think it’s very sad that she needed to ask that question, May I cry or should I be brave?
What would you have said to this little girl? And what if it were a boy asking the question—would you have told him to be a brave little man and not cry?
In the story of Lazarus, Jesus wept in the face of death, even though he was about to bring Lazarus back. Jesus wept even though he could say, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ Tears are the medicine of the soul.
Yet our reading from Revelation tells us that ‘God…will wipe every tear from their eyes.’