A sermon on Revelation 21.1-6a
So I'm sitting in my second office
(what I call the desk in my apartment)
writing this sermon.
My window is open and I can hear the sounds of people outside
as kids begin their Trick-or-Treating adventures.
I'm sitting there looking at yet another blank page as I wrestle with what to say this morning. As the noise coming from outside starts to become distracting, I get up to close the window, and I see outside parents walking, hand in hand, with their children, taking them trick-or-treating.
Then I'm remembering the cool October nights when my parents did the same thing with my sister and I.
Then I begin to think about how each parent with a child did the same thing with their parents.
Traditions connect us through time.
When my granddad was very young, around Christmas time in 1940 or so,
he was getting out a plate and glass to leave milk and cookies for Santa Clause.
My great granddad stopped him when he reached for the milk,
he suggested that maybe Santa got tired of cookies and milk all night,
so instead of milk and cookies, they put out soda and crackers that night.
Fast-forward 55 years, and my dad helped my sister and I prepare the same soda and cracker spread on Christmas Eve every year.
I never met my granddad. He died in 1969. But this seemingly odd tradition is one that connects us to each other.
It surpasses a physical connection.
These traditions exist in families in big ways,
and, of course, they also exist within the church.
I'm going to talk about two of those traditions that happen this morning.
Did you know that the first confirmation class, here at Elim, was confirmed in 1895?
Meaning that Elim's tradition of Confirmation classes as a vital part of Christian education is older than sliced bread.
While the number of years is impressive, what I want us to focus on is the young adults being confirmed.
Those first five kids of the 1895 class; Hulda, August, John, Carl, and Walter have a connection with Erica here in 2015.
And the connection doesn't just exist across time.
All across the country this week and last week, young adults were being confirmed.
One of my cousins, Chyanne, back in Iowa, was one of them.
Chyanne and Erica have never met, and most likely, never will,
but they already have something, other than gender, in common.
They're some of the newest adult members of the church.
They've spent years learning about the Bible, and Martin Luther, the history of the church, as well as the prayers and the creed, and why they're so important.
The second tradition I want to talk about,
that we'll participate in this morning, is the one where we share in the meal of communion.
I want you to close your eyes and imagine your dinner table.
Maybe it's a holiday or special occasion,
maybe it's just another day of the week,
but imagine there are people sitting around your table,
loved ones, family, friends,
sharing stories and laughter,
while passing the dishes around the table.
My parent's table has a piece in the middle that you can add to make the table longer.
If your table doesn't have one of those, imagine it does.
Imagine more and more people keep showing up for dinner
and you keep adding more and more pieces of table,
adding more and more place settings,
adding more and more chairs.
The meal continues along with the fellowship.
Traditions connect us across the globe.
According to the Lutheran World Federation, there are an estimated 73.2 million Lutherans in the world today, spanning five continents and 96 countries.
...and that's just Lutherans.
All of these people are seated at the table with you.
People you've known for a long time,
people who speak in a language you don't understand,
people with a similar past,
and people with stories and experienced you listen to in complete awe.
Now take that 73.2 million, considering some fluctuation of course, and add a couple of century's worth of people to the table.
It wouldn't be long before it spanned the entire globe,
adding new chairs all of the time.
What an amazing dinner table that would be.
What a beautiful experience.
With numbers larger than we can really imagine, it's any wonder how we could have anything in common with that many people.
But at the root of that commonality,
there's a promise.
A promise of a new heaven and a new earth.
A promise that the old has passed away.
A promise that says the Lord is making all things new.
A promise that says that no matter what happens today,
that there is death, and there is resurrection,
and there is a new day tomorrow.
People may hold grudges, and accounts of your mistakes,
but the Good News is that God, the Alpha and the Omega, holds no such account.
It's a promise that says that death is real,
but that life is just as real.
And that new life is ours' for the believing.
A promise that is lived out by a vas amount of people across time and geography.
A promise that takes the baptismal font and turns it into a forest of family trees.
Yesterday morning, at 6:30am, a baby was born in Davenport, IA.
My cousin Ryan, who grew up as more of a sibling of mine than a cousin,
became a dad.
I got to meet Lucas Harrison,
only hours old,
through pictures on my phone.
And while I'm not technically his aunt,
it sure feels that way already.
This brand new human being,
dressed in a skeleton onesie costume
(proof already that his grandma is going to love spoiling him),
is the best imagery that exists that everything is made new.
I look at this tiny person,
he hasn't made a decision yet in his life.
But I know that he'll make mistakes.
Eventually, he'll make decisions,
and some of them will be wrong.
But as a beloved child of God,
Lucas will wake up every morning and be born brand new.
That's the promise.
The same promise is for you,
and for me,
and for the saints who have gone before us,
as well as those who have yet to join the table.
After admiring the tradition of parents taking their kids trick-or-treating,
I closed the window, and sat back down at my desk,
I took a minute to remember my Halloweens when I was younger,
and to look forward to the many Halloweens Lucas will have,
and I thanked God that we would all wake up this morning to a wold make brand new.