Nov 6, 2016 Sermon.  Readings include Ephesians 1: 11-23

As many of you may already know, fall is one of my favorite times of the year.
Even as a kid I used to look forward to colder weather,..the leaves turning,…football season,…and, of course,…Halloween
But also every fall, we looked forward to watching the movie The Wizard of Oz.
Back in the day, many of you will remember that it was on TV only once a year, so every fall was the time to see it.

The movie was nominated for many Academy Awards, but notably won for it’s main song; ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ sung by Judy Garland.
I thought I’d share the lyrics with you here this morning -
Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops, high above the chimney tops is where you’ll find me
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow, why then oh why can’t I?

To understand it better, we have to remember the context of this pretty little song.
Dorothy was a young girl who’s dog, Toto, was going to be taken away from her.
With her parents apparently dead, she lived with an older aunt and uncle who she thought didn’t understand her.
And, the movie took place during the desolate Depression and the dust bowl days of Kansas.
So Judy had much to lament about her life and the world she lived in.

The song, then, sums up a hopeful longing to escape and be in a better place.
Where there are no troubles or woes and all is beautiful and wonderful and perfect.
(Sounds like a place we talk about in church a lot, doesn’t it?)

On this, All Saints Sunday, the prescribed readings all touch on that same theme.
From the Book of Daniel,…the Psalm,..the Ephesians reading,… and Luke’s Gospel,…all focus on a future hope where the wrong is righted and the good prevails.
In Luke, we heard of the change from bad to good when it says;
“Blessed are the hungry, for you will be filled”
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh”

But the reading that best details this future hope, is in the letter to the Ephesians. 
The letter was written to hearten a congregation’s need for a future hope and a better outcome.
It’s first few verses speak overtly of a better day ahead for the believers there.
Listen to some of the words used in that first part of that letter we read; 
You can see that the message resounds with an assurance of a better future.
Of something good to come that is assured and guaranteed. 

The second part of that passage encourages the people to trust and believe in that better future.
Listen to some of the words used there;revelation,…know,…so you may hope,…great power,…age to come.
The message says to count on God and Christ to make the dream of a better future come true!

You know, the people back then and there were not so much different than we.
All people experience hardship and troubles and woes in life at some point(s).
And all people ultimately know that their lives here on earth will come to an end.
Thus, we all have moments where we want, and need, to hope for a better future.

THAT is what God in Christ promises to us
That whatever woes or worries we presently have,…do not have the last word
That this world and its injustices and heartaches,….is not the end of the story.
That death,… is not the final scene in the movie that is our lives.

Just like Dorothy wanted something better than the troubles that dotted her life in Kansas,….
we too want something better than the failings, and fallenness, and injustices that often are part of life in this world.
God has put in our hearts the desire to want things to be better than they are…..for things to be perfect and good.
But God has also put in our ears words such as these that the promise of that the dream will come true.

It all happens because God has put into our world his Son, Jesus the Christ.
And it’s by, and through, and with, him that we can hope for and receive that promise.
Receive it when we breathe our last breathe,…but also here in this lifetime.
Because when we live in hopefulness,… every day here on earth is better.
When we live each day trusting that God has a better tomorrow in store for us,… then we have begun to receive the promise.
Then,…..we have already begun to experience salvation.

So, on this All Saints Sunday,….a time when we pause within the church year to recall the saints who’ve already departed,….we think of them with the sadness and sorrow of grief that can often fill up lives in this world. 
But also let us rest assured that they have gone to a better place and are living in the promise they were given.
Given by God, through Jesus Christ, and his life and death and resurrection.

As for us,…as we go on in life,…..let us trust in those promises of God to us,….not just at the end of our life.
Trust in them at the beginning and end of each and every day.
Live in the belief that God loves us, is with us, and forgives us.
Let is live trusting in the power of God that is always bringing good out of bad and right out of wrong.
And when our lives also end, as it was with all those who have gone before us,…let us live in the assurance that Jesus will take us ‘somewhere over the rainbow’.
To that place Christianity teaches us, is where are true home is.
For, as the last line in the movie says;… “There’s no place like home”.