9 After this I looked, and there was a great crowd that no one could number. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out with a loud voice:
- “ Victory belongs to our God
- who sits on the throne,
- and to the Lamb. ”
11 All the angels stood in a circle around the throne, and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell facedown before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying,
- “ Amen! Blessing and glory
- and wisdom and thanksgiving
- and honor and power and might
- be to our God forever and always. Amen. ”
13 Then one of the elders said to me, “ Who are these people wearing white robes, and where did they come from? ”
14 I said to him, “ Sir, you know. ”
Then he said to me, “ These people have come out of great hardship. They have washed their robes and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. 15 This is the reason they are before God’s throne. They worship him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them. 16 They won’t hunger or thirst anymore. No sun or scorching heat will beat down on them, 17 because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to the springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. ”
(Revelation 7:9-17 -- Common English Bible)
It is All Saints Day, and we pause to remember "all the Saints, who from their labors rest." The passage reproduced here from Revelation 7 envisions the martyrs, those who had fallen in death because of their faith. Now they approach the throne of heaven, where the host of heaven has gathered to sing praises to God. There is a word of promise here. The author envisions a time when the saints who have rested from their labors will find their sustenance in the person of the Lamb of God who serves as their shepherd and as the bearer of life giving water. And when this occurs, God will step down and wipe their tears from their eyes.
I invite you to take this passage of scripture and use it to envision the whole host of heaven, the host of God's saints who have borne witness to God's wondrous grace, those who have served God with their entire being, yes that have embodied in life and in death the two great commandments -- to love God with their entire being and love their neighbors as they love themselves.
May the saints of God remind us that we are not alone on this journey of life.