A vision you can count on

Pastor Matthew Best
7 min readNov 2, 2020

(I preached this sermon for All Saints Day — November 1, 2020. It is in response to two readings — Revelation 7:9–17 and Matthew 5:1–12. You can find the full recording of the service on the church website — ststephenlc.org.)

As many of you know, I have a long history in campaign politics. Prior to seminary, I ran campaigns of people running for a variety of offices, did strategy for campaigns, and got people elected. One of the keys things that any successful campaign does well is convey a vision — a candidate paints a verbal and imaginative and hopefully inspiring picture of where they see a nation, or state, or municipality going. Some candidates have been very gifted in this — Think Reagan with his Shining City on a Hill, or Clinton with his building a bridge to the 21 stcentury.

A vision lays out what people can hope for. A vision shares what is valued. A vision gives people a sense of purpose and belonging.

So, what does this have to do with All Saints Sunday anyway? Don’t we think that All Saints Sunday the least political Sunday on the church calendar? Isn’t All Saints Sunday about looking back to those who have died and remembering them? Remembering their lives and how we have loved these dear ones in our life and the impact they have had on our lives? Yes, but it’s so much more than that. What’s so visionary about All Saints Sunday anyway?

A lot actually. You see religion and politics are really the same thing — we may not like to think of them as the same thing or even related to each other, but they are. Both religion and politics offer us some important things — a vision of where we are headed, values that we hold in community, origin stories, definitions of success, how we are to relate to others, and they offer the ways of salvation — the only question is salvation for who and what.

If you look at the lectionary readings for today, you see this pretty clearly. The Revelation passage paints a picture, a vision. It starts right off telling us the vision, “After this I looked,” The entirety of Revelation is a vision — a path forward to where we are headed. It spells out what we know to be true — that following Jesus is about heading somewhere. We’re headed to the end of history, the culmination of the Kingdom of God. God is standing at the end of history, reaching out God’s arms to us and drawing us in to a loving embrace.

In Revelation we hear God’s campaign promises. “They will hunger no more, and thirst…

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.