November 1 marked the feast of All Saints'. It is one of the seven principal feasts of the church. The origins of this festival are hidden in the mist of time but, by the ninth century, it was an established celebration throughout the Christian world.
The church has long celebrated the sanctification of the people of God. We are all saints all working on becoming saintly! On this day in particular, we hold before us the stories of those mighty Christians who have so clearly been transformed by their life in Christ.
It is a common misconception to think of saints as human beings who did not sin. Indeed, many of them were mighty sinners at one point or another. Instead, we are called to reflect on how these individuals were so immersed in their life of faith that they have become signs to all Christians of the power of God’s grace changing the world one person at a time. Saints are not perfect – far from it. Saints are simply those who take God seriously and themselves not at all.
These saints remind us that God became flesh among us. We are made in the image of God. God is present in us and something is always waiting to happen in our lives. That something is transformation – the transformation of life until we become fully alive. The lives of the saints are lives touched and changed by the Holy Spirit. They are instances where God has broken through into human lives, tearing away the veil behind which we hide. Saints show us that the love of God is real and that with God anything is possible.
On the Sunday following the feast day, November 5, we will join with them, renewing our own commitment to Christ to follow in his way. We gather as community to speak the outrageous words of faith, aligning ourselves with what it takes to learn to be alive and to bring life and hope to the world we serve. We prepare ourselves for the habits of a faithful life, asking only for God’s grace in the doing of it. We lift our hearts to the Lord with all creation that we might be caught up in the dynamic love of God as Christ gives himself to us in bread and wine and we go out to the world to share the God who has come to dwell in us.
Let us celebrate the gift of the saints known and unknown, who have enriched God’s world through their following of the Lord Jesus. They offer us challenge, hope, inspiration, and the possibility of genuine surprise for our living. They invite us into eternal life here and now. “Let us now sing the praises of famous men (and women), our ancestors in their generations.”
The Rev. Sue Eaves