All Saints Day is a feast day celebrated on November 1 (or the first Sunday in November). We remember the saints who have left us in the past year, and we celebrate those saints still among us.
We often think of saints as those Christians before us who exemplified Christlikeness in the way they lived and ministered. We put halos around their heads to show their holiness, we name feast days, and we hope that their example helps us be better Christians ourselves. But as much as it’s good to have role models in the faith who might be canonized or recognized for their good work for the Kingdom, it’s also important to remember that God calls us all into the priesthood of believers and names us as holy (Latin: sanctus, meaning “holy,” where we get our English word for “saint”).
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”
We are all saints. Not some of us, not only the holiest of us, not just those with an official title. No, all those called and loved by God, believers in the Great Mystery and followers of Jesus Christ – every one of them is a saint.
Theologian Frederick Buechner once said of saints: “In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints.” Well, since no one is dropping handkerchiefs to flirt anymore, I decided to upgrade the quote: “In God’s holy networking with the world, she occasionally drops a business card. We call those business cards saints.”
Notice I didn’t say billboards. We all know there are some rather famous folks – saints we venerate, people whose saintliness was newsworthy. But those saints gathered in heaven also include every Vistaprint free business card ever made in the name of Christ. Every person with a mustard seed of faith is a saint.
Who do you remember this All Saints season? Whose memory stirs up God’s movement in your life?
For God, the saints will gather –
They’ll be that grandmother sipping sweet tea on the porch teaching us more wisdom than any classroom, and keeping us honest in all we do.
Are we learning all we can from her?
They’ll be that mother with a special needs child who gives constantly to keep her child cared for, who loves her family and her God fiercely through all her frustrations and her worry.
Are we gleaning all we can from how she loves?
They’ll be the long-suffering pastors of small urban congregations who rarely see any long-term change, but often feel that every step forward comes with two steps backward.
Are we embodying their tenacity and perseverance?
They’ll be that relative that in startling surprise and counter-cultural living embrace a young woman’s call and support and love her despite their differences of opinion in the matter.
Are we crossing boundaries in love?
Es posible que no hablan inglés – solamente otro idioma: It’s possible they don’t speak English – only another language.
¿Estamos escuchando? Are we listening?
They’ll be that friend who sat with you in your darkest hour, quietly listening to your deepest fears. They’ll be that friend who knew better than to interrupt your grief and left a casserole on the doorstep instead.
Are we offering attentive care like they do?
They’ll be that friend who always remembers your birthday or always sends a card on a significant loss anniversary, or that friend who recognizes the struggle of the new person and makes time to get to know you and show you around.
Are we remembering and living care?
They’ll be those quiet saints who care for the memorial gardens so those who grieve can do so in the beauty of the earth. Or those saints who fix church door handles or change the light bulbs to keep ministry places vibrant.
Are we cultivating love and shining the light of life like they do?
These are our saints – from regular church folks, to the quietest neighbor offering love consistently in so many ways, to those who might not seem “saintly” in the least unless we’re really paying attention. As we expand our vision of saintliness this season, we can begin to see and appreciate all of these saints, the likely and the unlikely, and celebrate who they are among us.
Written by Libby Grammer
Originally published in the November Explorer