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Epistle: Revelation 7:9-17

9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying,  “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing,  “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom  and thanksgiving and honor  and power and might  be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”   13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  15For this reason they are before the throne of God,   and worship him day and night within his temple,   and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.  16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;   the sun will not strike them,   nor any scorching heat;  17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,   and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,  and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

One of the funerals we conducted was for the choir director of our church who died of brain cancer at the age of 46. She was survived by two children, 12 and 10 years old. Karen was not only the church’s choir director, but the choir director at the local high school.

The service was held at the church, and every pew was filled, with people standing in the back – over 500 people in attendance. I have never seen so many young people at a funeral before or since. It was quite a witness to the many lives Karen touched in her teaching and ministry.

At the conclusion of the service, as the senior pastor and I led the casket down the 100-foot-long aisle to the back of the church, the organist played the Hallelujah Chorus on the massive pipe organ, and pulled out all the stops. The congregation quickly joined in. No one had the music in hand, but they knew the words, and they knew their parts. For the tradition of the high school, a public school, was to perform Handel’s Messiah once every two years as their Christmas program.

I will never forget that sound. I still recall the goose-bumps on my arms, the lump in my throat, and the tears in my eyes as I did my best to sing the chorus I had sung many times before myself.

When I read the words of Revelation, I imagine what we experienced that day as we recessed from the church was a foretaste of the feast to come, and the incredible rejoicing awaiting us in God’s eternal realm.

Even in the midst of incredible grief and sadness, we find hope that God has the final word. For the worst thing is NOT the last thing.

In the midst of the grief and sadness, anxiety and fear where we are today, we find hope that God has the final word. The worst thing is NOT the last thing.

Let us Pray: For the hope you give us, we give you thanks. We long to sing your praises in a mighty chorus once again, and with sure and certain hope, we anticipate singing your praises with the saints who have gone before us, knowing there is a seat in choir for us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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