The Final Word
By Dr. Jeffrey K. London
It is in the night,
and all that “night” symbolizes,
that we come to appreciate the light of grace.
For it is in the night
when all is dark
that we lie naked before the universe.
It is in the night that we wrestle with demons and angels
hoping against hope to see the light of the new day.
is both tomb and womb for the Christian.
It is the place where we die a thousand deaths
and it is the place where new life springs forth. (Psalm 110:3; 139:13; Isaiah 46:3-4)
Whether it is the darkness of our rooms at night
or the night of our darkness within,
we are being re-created into the people God intends us to be.
So it is important that we recognize the necessity of the tomb
if we are ever to experience the wonder of the womb.
But the reality of the tomb is difficult to come to terms with
because it comes to us in the reality of our tears,
in the reality of our darkness,
in the reality of death.
Jesus arrives on the scene to find Mary in a tomb of tears.
There are no stars in her night sky.
Her brother Lazarus is dead
and she’s angry with Jesus for not coming earlier,
for not saving her brother. (John 11:32)
But it only takes a word from Jesus
and the tomb gives way to the womb
and the light of life bursts forth.
“Unbind him and let him go!” (John 11:44)
is Jesus’ word to the tomb.
Death shall not have the final word.
The final word belongs to God
and in Jesus Christ we see the light of the Word shine in our darkness
and the darkness cannot overcome it. (John 1:5)
There is a greater reality;
a greater reality that is unbound and free;
a greater reality that transforms the tomb into the womb,
death into life;
it is a greater reality that belongs to God.
And it is this greater reality that we celebrate on All Saints’ Day.
And it is this greater reality that is among us even now.
The home of God is among us. (Revelation 21:3)
Not in spite of,
but especially in the midst of the pain and tragedy we experience,
in the midst of all that would entomb us —
God is present and active bringing life out of death.
The letter to the Hebrews visions a great cloud of witnesses constantly surrounding us,
an enormously bright conclave of saints cheering us on
as we run this race of life. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
It’s a wonderfully faithful vision of God’s greater reality
that is always just beyond touch and sight.
It reminds us that we are not alone in this saintly life;
it reminds us that we are part of a larger legacy that belongs to God.
We are part of a holy plan that stretches beyond time and space.
And it is this holy plan,
this larger legacy of redemption and salvation,
that makes our faithful loved ones very much a part of our present,
very much with us,
very much among us — cheering us on.
And so we come on this day of days
not to pay homage to the tomb,
not to hear the voice of death;
we come to experience the wonder of the womb,
we have come to hear the Roll Call of life.
We gather in anticipation of the final word that belongs only to God
the final word that wipes every tear from our eyes;
the final word that conquers death;
the final word that scatters mourning, pain, and sorrow;
the final word that brings light to our night
and makes all things new. (Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 21:4-5)
So let us Call the Roll.
With joy and thanksgiving let us faithfully acknowledge God’s greater reality.
Let us give thanks to God for the living legacy of all the saints
that make up the saving history of our God.
Please respond to the announcement of each saint’s name by faithfully proclaiming each one to be “PRESENT.”
|1. Charley Adams|
2. Cloe Adams
3. Raymond Adams
4. Robert Amacher
5. Shirley Amacher
6. Charles Ashcraft
7. Millicent Ashcraft
8. Dick Bagwell
9. Juanita Baker
10. Marilyn Baker
11. Gene Basden
12. Jo Basden
13. James Basden
14. Frances Bergdorf
15. Andrew Carroll
16. Chen Chenoweth
17. Lloyd Cox
18. Steve Dennis
19. Chub Dodge
20. Grace Dodge
21. Ann Patterson Dooley
22. David Drummond
23. Callie Elder
24. Loyd Elder
25. Buddy Elliot
26. Betty Ford
27. Doris Ford
28. Rev. John Gammie
29. Gregory Glenn
30. Betty Baxter Green
31. Bill Grimm
32. Shanna Grinstead
33. Kerilyn Brooke Henderson
34. Linda Herzberg
35. Bill Holloway
36. Geraldine Holmes
37. Doran Johnson
38. Geri Jones
39. Edward Juergenson
40. Ida Juergenson
41. Glen Lawrence
|42. Ken Ledbetter|
43. Marion Ledbetter
44. George Lisle
45. Robert London
46. Wanda London
47. Russell Maddox
48. Doug Markey
49. Bob McGowen
50. Frankie McKinnon
51. Maynard Miller
52. Violet Miller
53. Vivian Milne
54. Del Moore
55. Bart Charles Murphy
56. Charlie Murphy
57. Everett Murphy
58. Josephine Murphy
59. Max Murphy
60. Lea Nielsen
61. Ed Orr
62. Mary B. Park
63. Daniel Alan Popp
64. Scott Portz
65. Mary Ramsay
66. Beatrice Ramseur
67. Alfreda Reaves
68. James Rettie
69. Reita Somers
70. Dale Stauffer
71. Arnold Stock
72. Del Stumpff
73. Martha Somers Stunkel
74. Priscilla Swain
75. Glen Swan
76. Kathleen Thompson
77. Christine Weber
78. George Weber
79. Judy Wenger
80. Betty Murphy Woods
81. Margaret Colladay
Prayer: God of tomb and womb, across the ages you have sent us more witnesses than we could recognize, more help than we could seek, and more of yourself than we have been able to love. We thank you especially today for the saints of our faith: those who have freed us to worship you, those who have revived our faith and spoken your calling to us, those how have taught us about the past that we might be prepared for the future, and those whom we love, those who have been Christ to us, listening, loving, teaching, and serving us in your holy name.
With gratitude and thanks, O God, we rejoice in the vision of your saints surrounding us, especially in difficult times when we need to sense their cheering encouragement. For the gift of their witness and your Word, for care from their hands and from yours, we thank you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Copyright 2006, Jeffrey K. London. Used by permission.