God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Who are the Saints and what’s up with All Saints Day?
31 October 2012Posted by on
Traditionally November 1 is observed as All Saints Day.
All Saints Day is a special day set aside by the Church to remember, to honor and to recognize our common ancestors for their on-going connection and influence in the lives of families and communities. This year (On Sunday, November 4, 2012) the community of Christ United Methodist Church will gather for joint worship at 11 am with our sisters and brothers from the First United Methodist Church in their sanctuary to commemorate this holy day.
I am posting a copy of the message that I preached last year; this message explains how I understand what this holy day is and what it means to all of us.
= = = Message from 2011 commemorating Saints of the Church and Saints of Our Lives = = =
Here is the link to the entry on my blog from 2011
Today is All-Saints Day. When we hear the word “saint,” a certain image comes to mind. We think of a person with an angelic smile who makes huge contributions to the well-being of their neighbors with the foreknowledge that they will be rewarded with their image on a stained glass window somewhere sometime. If you Google an image of a saint you will discover that some of them are depicted with a pious smile and eyes towards heaven while others have a stern look on their face, as if they grieved deeply with the frivolity of our lives.
There is a certain disconnect between the images of saints that we find in various art traditions and the pages of the Bible. In the Bible, the saints are described as normal men and women who are fully aware that they are understood and forgiven by God; who act upon that wonderful knowledge with ALL of their lives, without angling for stained-glass window status. If we read biographies of Saints, we will discover that they were men and women who relished their lives as a gift from God. Sometime during their lives, they realized that the only way to honor God’s gift of life and God’s Grace in their lives was to give it away by dedicating ALL of their lives to God’s service. Their relationship with God, their intimate understanding of God, helped these men and women to take an extra step beyond just being a part of a Church, beyond just sitting in a pew on a Sunday morning. That extra step was becoming a new creation: a new creation in heart, in thought and in action.
In the United Methodist Church (an in many other protestant denominations), All Saints’ Day is observed on the first Sunday in November. It is observed in part to remember deceased members of the local church congregation. Sometimes a candle is lit as each person’s name is called out, followed by a prayer offered for each soul.
All-Saints Day is set aside to remember those men and women who came before us and in their memory to honor God and what God has done through them; for God’s work of salvation and sanctification through them.
We inherited our world, our traditions and our surroundings from these men and women. And truth be told, all of us gathered here today are saints in the making.
YOU ARE THE SAINTS OF TOMORROW.
We see saints in the rank and file of the daily life:
We see them teaching in the public schools and universities.
We see them in emergency rooms and on the floors of our hospitals.
We see them in missionaries in faraway lands and in the next county and in those who offer hospitality to these missionaries.
We see them in retirement homes organizing social events, worship services and just making sure that their neighbors are OK.
We see them in Sunday School rooms.
We see them working on our roads and maintaining an infrastructure of what makes our lives possible
We see them praying for their neighbors and making sure that their neighbors have a hot meal on a day when they have no time to prepare a meal.
We see them in high school kids who gather together to raise money for Heifer project or other mission outreach.
We see them in auto mechanics where customers receive an honest job and service at a fair price.
We see them in farmers who raise our food that nourishes our bodies
We see them in fellowship that nourishes our souls.
To be a saint means recognizing that God has called each of us by name. To be a saint means to hear God’s Call, to listen to what God is calling us to do and to respond to God’s call. To be a saint means recognizing that God has promised to do great things through us for others and for the sake of all of God’s creation that God loves so much.
To us it may seem that we are unlikely candidates for saints because we know all of our inner thoughts, failings and imperfections and because our lives happen in our personal profane, blessed, intricate and complicated earthiness. But it is also important to remember that throughout the history of humanity, God called the least likely candidates to do the most extraordinary things.