As this blog continues toward becoming a useful community-builder, information source, and teaching tool, you will begin seeing the days of the saints mentioned. Already you hear these folks named near the end of the Prayers of the People many weeks. But despite the name of our gathering, plenty of us who have found a home at All Saints Church are not used to talking about capital ‘S’ Saints.
All Saints drinks deeply of the tradition of the Church, but we are still solidly Protestant, and one thing that means is that we hold to the Protestant view of saints. That is, we take Scriptures such as Ephesians 2:19 (“You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”) to mean that all who are in Christ can in the truest sense of the word be called saints.
The word ‘saint’ literally means ‘holy one.’ In Christ we have been made ‘holy ones,’ even as we and God know we are still sinners. Martin Luther most famously summed this up, calling us ‘simultaneously saints and sinners,’ but we speak of this duality loudly each week through our liturgy. As saints, we dare to believe that the King of kings and Lord of lords desires us to come into his courts and eat from his table, that God loves to hear our prayers. And as sinners, we confess our sins and our brokenness to God and to one another in hope of forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing.
Remembering the saints in the life of the church is important for several reasons. First, it reminds us that we are not the first to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good.’ We are not the first to respond with faithful obedience to God’s call on our lives or to receive God’s blessing. It keeps us humble.
Second, remembering the saints gives us a better sense of how much we have received and at what cost. From Jesus himself to ten of his faithful eleven to many others in the early generations of the church to persecuted Christians today, witnesses to the kingdom of God in Christ have paid for the proclamation of the faith with their lives. Countless more have entered into the “bloodless martyrdom” (a phrase first applied to some saints soon remembered as the Desert Fathers) which is the cost of discipleship for all believers.
Third, remembering the saints is a reminder that we are not alone in our faith. Hebrews 12:1–“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Hopefully, hearing stories of the saints through this blog will be an encouragement to your faith. Please comment here and on those future posts. And if there is a saint’s life which has truly been meaningful in your life of faith, and you would like to help us write about them, please contact us.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Nick Jordan