It is indeed a special day when a woman puts on that white dress. It means that she is soon to become someone’s wife. It has been that way since Queen Victoria decided to buck the system and wear a white gown to her wedding, and ever since, white for a bride has become the norm. Doctors wear white coats to say that they are healers of the sick. There is something to be said about the color white. Today, the color white makes a profound appearance. It harkens us back to a time of long ago, as well as to a time ahead.
Do you remember the day that you wore white? It was probably long ago and all you remember is screaming. All those years ago, you wore white on the day of your Baptism, the day that made you a forgiven child of God. I’m sure you don’t remember much from that day. I doubt you remember asking for God’s forgiveness. The reason why you don’t remember that is because you don’t ask God for forgiveness, He gives that you freely. Some 2000 years ago, God saw fit to keep a promise made even longer than that. God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ into this world to redeem it. This sinful and fallen world did not deserve anything but wrath and damnation. That’s the same thing that you and I deserve, and yet God thought differently, and it’s a good thing He did.
That’s the great joy of being a saint, for that is what you are. Despite how some define the word saint, you are indeed a saint. A saint, in its proper sense, is any believer on earth or in heaven. Since you are a believer in Christ and since you reside on earth, that makes you a saint. But you are not the only saint. In fact, there are a countless number of saints in heaven as well. St. John sees that for himself in our text from Revelation. He says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
These saints of God do what saints should do: worship God. In fact, that is all that they do and it is all that we will do when God calls us to Him. And why shouldn’t the saints give thanks and honor and praise to God? This is God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. This is the God who created all things, including us. This is the God who made salvation possible for us. This is the God who sacrificed His one and only Son in order to redeem His creation.
Being a saint doesn’t make you look any different than anyone else. It doesn’t make you act any different, though it should, for you are a redeemed and blood-bought child of God. To be a saint is indeed a wonderful gift, a gift that is given at great price. It necessitated sacrifice on our part. For all the sacrifices God’s people have made, none would be able to make a sinner forgiven.
In order to be made a saint, God the Father sends forth His Son to make full atonement on our behalf; that is to say, there is nothing needed on your part to be made a saint. Since Christ is true God and true man, His sacrifice is all-sufficient. Listen to what St. Paul says to the Romans: “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” You see, by Adam sin came into the world. But by Christ, and Christ alone is sin conquered. You do nothing while Christ does everything. Because Christ does everything, you become a saint.
As John continues, one of the elders asked him, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” He responds that the elder knows and the elder gives an excellent response as to who these countless people are: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” What a great response! Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom, has given His life for us and called us His own. Our sinful name is washed away in the waters of Holy Baptism. Being baptized into Christ, we have received the Father’s family name, given to us by the Holy Spirit. Now our names and the names of all God’s saints are written in the Lamb’s book of life. When we are brought into Christ through Baptism, nothing can keep us separated from Him because He has bridged the gap of separation with His own body and blood. The fact that the saints are wearing white robes shows that this righteousness is not their doing but is imputed to them for Christ’s sake.
What a joy it is to be called a saint! What makes it such a joy is that you do nothing to become a saint. This is salvation at its finest. How are you saved? It is not of your own doing, it is of Christ’s doing. And so today, while it is all about us, the saints of Christ on earth and the saints of Christ in heaven, it is still and always about Jesus.
We can give thanks for the work that God did in them and through them while they were here, for Gary, Dorothy and Donna. We can also give thanks for the work of the saints who still live with us here in time. We, the baptized saints of God, continue to confess our sins. We continue to hear and taste the Gospel for the forgiveness of sins as it comes to us in Word and Sacrament. We continue to watch for the day when Jesus Christ our Lord calls us out of this veil of sorrows to Himself in heaven, or, should we still be here on the Last day, we will join in the resurrection of that Day. We too who confess the name of Jesus Christ will one day be reunited with those saints who have gone on before, but more importantly, we will be reunited with the One who allowed us to enter heaven by His sacrificial death, Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.