‚Herr, unsre Lieben alle, die nun bereits von hier in’s Land des Friedens gingen, nimm sie, nimm sie zu dir! Laß einst sie dort uns finden! O seliger Verein, wenn wir des Himmelsfriedens zusammen uns erfreu’n! Mein Heiland, Herr und Meister, o sprich erbarmungsreich zu uns das Wort des Heiles: »Der Friede sei mit Euch!« Send’ uns den Himmelsfrieden, den nie die Erde gibt, der nur dem Herzen winket, das rein und treu dich liebt!‘

These are some of the words of Schubert’s German Mass; to be more exact, he uses them in the ‘Agnus Dei’, the part of the traditional communion liturgy when we think of Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; and we ask him to have mercy on us. We will hear these words in a few moments, as we celebrate communion today.

Schubert talks about those who already left this life on earth behind and talks about the hope we have to be reunited with those who have gone before us. A translation of Schubert’s words would be, “Lord, embrace all those who have already gone from here into the land of peace. Let us find them there when our time comes. O blessed community, when we altogether enjoy heavenly peace! My savior and master, o speak mercifully to us the word of salvation: ‘Peace be with you!’ And send us the heavenly peace earth can never give, which is promised to the heart alone, which loves you purely and faithfully.”

For Schubert, the forgiveness of sins equals the participation in heavenly community and joy and the reunion with those who died; mercy equals the gift of peace, a peace we cannot find here on earth. And so the concepts of sin and mercy, concepts, which often seem rather abstract, all of a sudden become much more approachable and concrete. This is the great vision, this is what we as Christians have been promised and long for: the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven, a realm of peace, a realm where we are in community with all the saints, and especially the ones we loved and whom death took away from us, a place where mourning and crying and pain and death will be no more.

And it is a beautiful vision, a vision Schubert borrows from the Bible. It is a vision that gives us comfort and hope, especially in these times, when we experience so much division, strife, destruction and violence; Election Day is almost here, and I am just dismayed and appalled by the nastiness of the presidential campaigns and the aggression it stirs up in so many people.

It is a beautiful vision, especially on this day, All Saints Day, when we remember those we lost and mourn. We shall find heavenly peace with God and with all of God’s beloved children. And, yes, even with those with whom we might not see eye to eye on political and other issues in this life.

However, this is just one aspect of All Saints Day. Yes, we especially remember those saints who have died, but, according to Martin Luther, all the baptized are saints in the eyes of God. You and I, we all are saints, living here on earth and called to bring a glimpse of heavenly peace and saintly community into the places where we are.

Jesus makes this very clear in the words we heard from today’s gospel: blessed are you. Blessed are you, the living! You are children of God. You may struggle here on earth, but God is with you in your struggle. In fact, is it to be expected that we struggle as we live God’s vision here on earth, because the world often has different values and tempts us to choose the easy and comfortable way out.

We are a blessing and foreshadow God’s heavenly realm of peaceful and joyful community, when we are good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for our opponents, offer the other cheek, and do onto others as we would have them do unto us. This is saintly, and yes, challenging living here and now. This is how we break the vicious cycle of fear, hate, and violence we so often experience these days, and especially now that Election Day rapidly approaches. This is how we are already connected with the saints who have gone before us, the great cloud of witnesses, and experience a taste of the kingdom of heaven in which peace and justice reign.

And this mystery we experience whenever we come together to worship and celebrate the mass – and, yes, even as Protestants, we still follow the ancient mass, even though we don’t call our worship by that name anymore. In worship, we imitate the heavenly host here on earth. We are a blessed community with all the saints, those in heaven and on earth.

This day, All Saints Sunday, is a day to be mindful of all the saints had or still have to offer; to appreciate the saint Franz Schubert, whose gift to the world is beautiful music and heartfelt words; to remember the saints who raised us and loved us and walked with us here on earth, and whose death has left us bereft; and to honor all the saints alive around us today, who do their best to live the heavenly kingdom of peace and justice, to honor the saints who have come together here today, to honor the saints of the Oakland Turnverein, who share their heavenly song with us.

Blessed are those who have gone before us. Blessed are you. Blessed are we. Thanks be to God. Amen