See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” Simul iustus et peccator. That’s how Luther said it. Simultaneously saint and sinner. Or as John says it. We are children of God now, but what we will be has not yet appeared. It has appeared for some. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus says to the thief on the cross. So we remember family and friends who have died in the faith this last year, who are now in paradise. Who now enjoy the fullness of being a saint and no longer experience the misery of being a sinner. Their baptisms consummated in death, they now enjoy the heavenly feast as we children of God on earth partake of the foretaste for the forgiveness of sins, because for us what we will be has not yet appeared.
What we will be has not yet appeared. This though has no bearing on the fact that we are children of God, who have been born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, or the will of man, but of God. That is it isn’t that we want to be children of God that makes us children of God. It isn’t on account of anything in us that we are children of God. We don’t have to be born Jewish, we don’t have to earn it with our works, but we are born of the will of God to be his children when we are baptized, born again of water and the spirit, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is baptism that makes us Children of God, and it is baptism that makes us saints. There in baptism God’s will is worked, and we are born of his will. Now we are children of God, but what we will be has not yet appeared.
We would like for it to have appeared by now, right? There are times. I grow impatient with myself and others. All children of God, all brothers and sisters in Christ and we act like brothers and sisters too! Not necessarily how we think brothers and sisters in Christ should act, but as experience has shown us brothers and sisters do act. No one knows you like a sibling knows you. No one knows you like a brother or a sister. Living under the same roof, with the same parents exposes you to a brother or a sister. So when brothers and sisters fight, well those can be rather painful fights. And yet you still have to sit at the thanksgiving table with them, still have to gather around grandma’s casket, grandpa’s deathbed. You are brothers and sisters. And so we are brothers and sisters in Christ, children of God, born of his will, who gather together around the foretaste of the feast to come that we celebrate with all the saints who have gone before us, Angels and Archangels and all the company of heaven. The dearly departed and the living gathered around a feast that transcends time and space because in it we partake of the very body and blood of God himself, proclaiming his death until he comes, and God himself is eternal.
Yes, here you have “mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.” Here on earth where what we will be hasn’t yet appeared, here on earth where we still fight the battles of the church militant, and struggle to bear our crosses, struggle to bear with one another in love and unity, struggle to treat one another as the brothers and sisters in Christ that we are, we still have communion in Christ with those who are one with us even now, men like Mike and Phil, women like Joan, you’re deceased mother or Father, your deceased child whom you brought to the font before they could speak, your grandma and your grandpa. Here you eat and drink with them in Christ, because God is God of the living and not of the dead, and so they have joined the company of heaven, because this is a communion of saints, and that you are as children of God, eating and drinking even now with those who know and see what you will be, even as they behold Christ as he is, in whom we hope, and with which hope we sinners are purified. Amen.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.