A lesson for all saints and sinners
Published 9:42 am Friday, October 30, 2015
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Cherie Daniel
Which one are you? Actually, unless we are talking about those persons beatified in the Catholic Church, each of us is both! In current understandings of scriptures and practice, all persons who claim the powers and responsibilities of being followers of Christ are saints. We know that we are sinful, but it is less easy for us to proclaim our saintliness. It sounds like bragging or something like that. If we said it aloud, it might jinx our good luck so far. We don’t introduce ourselves as “Saint Me.”
All Saints Day is Nov. 1. It is a day to remember, name and lift up the lives of those faithful saints who have contributed to the life of the church. There are many, many ways to practice your sainthood. You know — and practice — many of them! Being aware of needs and equally aware of resources can help in the quest for achieving sainthood.
Email newsletter signup
Who are the hungry, the ill, the homeless, the thirsty, the abused, the voiceless, the lonely, the depressed, the uneducated, the faithless, the imprisoned, the naked, the castaways, the lost? You know many of them. You help many of them. How?
You collect nonperishable, nutritious goods for the food shelves. You drop off your gently used clothes and furniture at a local charity store. You donate your old eyeglasses and wheelchairs and bathtub stools to organizations that can redistribute them. You drop coins and cash into the UNICEF boxes children bring to your home when they are trick-or-treating. You round up your grocery bill at the cash register. You teach Sunday School. You sing in the choir. You greet people at the door. You make eye contact, learn folks’ names and affirm each person’s existence.
What did Pope Francis say? “Pray. Then do.” If you are to continue to be motivated to be saintly, then you must stay in touch with God who already sees into your eyes, knows your name and created you to be an affirmation to the world. God has given us many concrete lists of things to do in order to be counted among the saints.
Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Matthew 25:35-40, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
In the Revised Common Lectionary cycle, the Psalm for this All Saints Day is Psalm 24. Verses 3 through 6 give us courage and affirmation to be saints: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false and who do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.”
One of the hymns for this season is “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God,” which was written by Lesbia Scott in 1929. The text refers to persons from all walks of life who were “faithful their whole lives through.” The persons mentioned are in all kinds of trades, from all income levels, in all age categories and who lived and died living faithful lives. The line of the hymn is this, “for the saints are folk like you and like me, and I mean to be one too.”
Yes, we are sinners. And yes, we are saints. God calls us to be the best versions of ourselves. I leave you with this passage from Revelation 22.21: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.”
Cherie Daniel is pastor of Peace United Church of Christ and St. Paul’s United Church of Christ of Minnesota Lake.