“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6).
No one remembers the day they were born: you may have seen pictures from your early life but you don’t really remember it. Your parents may have told you about it, but what you remember is what they told you, not the day itself. On the other hand, no one knows how their life will end: when, where, or how. We never know what lies ahead. What we know is the part in between birth and the present moment, what we call “our life.”
In our second reading today, a vision of God from the Book of Revelation, God says that he is “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6). “Alpha” is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and “omega” is the final letter. God is here announcing that he stands at the beginning and at the end of all things. The Book of Revelation gives a vision of the end of human history, the details of which no one can really know. What we can know is that God holds all things in his hand. God is in charge of all of human history, from the beginning to the end. He remembers the day of our birth and he knows the day of our death.
God sees where we are and is trustworthy to save us. We can rely upon God because he knows us. As it says in our reading: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them” (Rev. 21:3). God is the God of all saints, the saints we celebrate today. God is close to us, living right next to us, and is mighty to save.
Later in the Book of Revelation, Jesus also calls himself “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13). Jesus is the One who stands with us, at our beginning and at our ending. He is the One who is coming as Judge of the living and the dead at the end of time. As it says in Revelation, “See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work” (Rev. 22:12). Jesus is the judge, but he also stands with us throughout our lives, and gives himself for us as our friend.
In our reading, God also says, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Our lives do not just have a beginning and an end. There is new life for all those who are in Jesus Christ, all those who belong to him. There are new beginnings for all who follow him. “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Rev. 21:1).
This is why we don’t simply remember the saints but instead celebrate their victory over death. This celebration of the feast of All Saints reminds us that God has prepared a kingdom for all who put their faith in Christ, including you and me. This is the holy city, the new Jerusalem, that comes down out of heaven from God in our reading today. The saints enter into the city, and so will we.
Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and he promises new life to us. “[God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). If death is powerful, Jesus Christ is more powerful. This is the Gospel promise to all who follow Christ. The One who makes all things new will make us new, and bring us into a new world and a new reality by raising us from the dead.
- The Rt. Rev’d John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee