No More Tears

 

1953, Johnson and Johnson shampoo company came up with an advertizing slogan that has stuck:

No More Tears.

For the past 60 years, this slogan has appeared on every bottle of shampoo the company has made.

 

Johnson and Johnson says that the slogan is about its commitment to safety and care

        the special formula of their shampoo

        and the stringent testing their products go through

to ensure that their products do not cause eye irritation for the youngest of our families.

       

But we all know the reason why this slogan has worked all these years is that no one wants a crying baby!

        We would do anything to keep our wee ones smiling

                and it hurts our hearts to hear them cry.

        Since there is no way to prevent a child from getting hurt forever,

        we hang on to the ways we can: with shampoo!

No More Tears sounds great—sign me up!

 

No More Tears could be a slogan for today’s lessons.

        Isaiah and Revelation present two visions of God’s ultimate healing for the world.

                They use different imagery:

                        Isaiah pictures a great feast on God’s holy mountain

                                It is a banquet that beats all others, with plentiful rich food and sumptuous wine.

                        It’s a foodies’ dream come true!

                But the most amazing thing is not the food; it is that this feast is unabashedly inclusive.

        Whereas wedding feasts and royal banquets are for the invited crowd,

        Isaiah proclaims that on God’s holy mountain, God prepares a ‘feast for all peoples.’

This feast will even include Israel’s enemies—all nations shall stream to it and be welcome.

 

Revelation paints a different picture: of a restored city, a new Jerusalem.

        The city is not a place where God is enclosed in a temple;

        it’s not a place of that can be overrun by enemies.

                The city is the place where God dwells.

        God makes a home with mortals

God claims the peoples of the earth and lives among them, literally ‘setting up a tent’ with them.

Revelation claims this is going to be a forever thing: God’s people will never again feel alone.

 

The thing both of these visions have in common is No More Tears.

        The same image is used, of God wiping away tears.

        Like the parent who is willing to do whatever is necessary to stop the crying,

God promises to end the pain and suffering and separation once and for all.

 

It is an important message on All Saints Day.

        Some of us have lost important people in our lives in the past year.

                Even if the loss was years ago, it can still emerge fresh, as if it were yesterday.

        Others have weathered other kinds of deaths:

        losses of jobs, relationships, dreams, health.

We know the reality of tears.

 

These visions of God ultimate healing, of wiping away tears,

of a day when there will be no more crying or suffering or pain is hope for the long haul.

        The vision keeps us moving forward, strengthens us for the journey,

        like the glimpse of the finish line in a marathon length race.

 

But part of me wonders, how is this not pie in the sky thinking?

        If we have to wait until we die for comfort, for the end of pain, for no more tears,

                what good is that now?

        Can these visions benefit us now, guide our current action?

Can they do anything more than just tell us to buck up, and hang on?

 

This is where our gospel lesson comes in.

        Because Jesus knew the reality of tears, too.

                Standing at the edge of Lazarus’ tomb, his dear friend gone—

                seeing Mary and Martha who cared for him like a brother crying their hearts out--

        feeling the anger and hopelessness of death, the emptiness inside--

Jesus wept.

 

And this is good for us.

        We have company in our tears.

                Jesus validates tears and the expression of pain.

                It’s like Rosey Grier, New York Giants lineman, singing “It’s alright to cry,”

        on the children’s album Free to Be, You and Me

        “Crying gets the sad out of you/it’s alright to cry/it might make you feel better.”

Tears are a part of what it means to be human-- and to be alive.

 

The truth is, sometimes we can’t go to Isaiah’s mountain

we can’t be in God’s city

        sometimes we are stuck at the tombside with Jesus

        crying our hearts out at the injustice and pain and separation of our lives here on this lonely planet

We weep like Jesus weeps.

This is an important part of our spiritual journey.

 

 

But we also witness Lazarus coming out of the tomb.

        Perhaps we don’t understand it, but here he is, coming out, whole and alive.

Something is greater here.

God is present

a new heaven and new earth await.


And so, for now, we simply act in trust—

        We may not see how it will happen, but we can put on trust each day like a garment

        trust that God is working, that God is present

        that God has a bigger picture than any of us can see.

                And when we do that, we begin to pay greater attention to what happens during the day.

        We see that God has protected us that day.

        God has given comfort and beauty – often in the little things.

When we pay attention, we get a little foretaste now of that feast to come.

We catch a glimpse of that city of God.

We lift faces to God, and feel our tears begin to dry.

 

William James, the philosopher, said, “Faith is a self fulfilling prophecy.”

I think this is true, as is it’s corollary, that non-faith and hopeless are also a self fulfilling prophecy.

        It means that a person will find evidence that supports his/her outlook on life.

                So if you want to believe, surround yourself with things that support that faith

        scriptures, hymns and songs, people who are a part of God’s work in the world.

        Pay attention to the small examples of grace and the opportunities to grow in your own life

You will see what you look for.

 

Today we see a vision of God with us, of a time when there will be No More Tears.

        Though we live in the reality of tears, we give thanks for them,

        knowing they connect us more deeply to the human experience

        and the mystery of God’s work in our lives.

May the vision of No More Tears continue to give us hope for today and tomorrow

Together we help one another believe into it.

 

 

 

Children’s Sermon

Show selected pictures from Medieval Feast by Aliki.

Read Isaiah.  What might be the same?  (preparations, rich food, very special)

What is different?

All people included in God’s feast.

 

 

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