“But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, And their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples and the Lord will reign over them forever. Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.” (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9)
The “Wisdom of Solomon” is not a book you would find in the bible as we know it. It is “deuterocanonical” meaning of the second authority. The Revised Common Lectionary draws from such sources, as there is wisdom outside of what is recognized canon from centuries back. The passage draws on theology that aligns to what some portions of Christianity profess – that the departed who have been taken up to heaven reside with God and are under God’s protection. That they are not being punished but rewarded for the good they did in life. It is this understanding the supports All Saints Day, that these people are worthy of remembrance and veneration.
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.” (Isaiah 25:6-9)
Since the writer of Isaiah leaves the interpretation and designation of which mountain is meant, other than it being the mountain of the Lord, it could be considered a description of heaven; and the RCL seems to encourage us to assume this by citing it for All Saints Day. It is a good generic description of heaven – plenty of food and drink, no death, and no tears nor remnant of disgrace. Worth waiting for. And worth celebrating that those dear to us have gone on to this reward.
That is not to say that we should hurry through this life in order to get to the reward that is to come. There are many wondrous things in this life, and it is why we also mourn when those we know have passed away. Not just because we feel lose, but because they have passed from this world. As wondrous as a world where God is in complete control will be, this world have its treasures and rewards. Here they are farther in between and many times are achieved by diligence of body, mind and spirit. But that makes them all the sweeter. So do not be in a hurry to leave this world, beloved reader. Just know that what is to come will also gladden the spirit.
May you find joy both in this world and anticipated joy in the world to come. Selah!