This Sunday is All Saints Sunday.
In preparing to lead worship at one of our churches, my heart is filled with the names and faces of those who have gone before me. The teachers and preachers, grandparents and prophets, friends gone too soon. There are also poets and writers, composers and painters, none of whom I’ve ever met face-to-face but who have impacted my life and touched my soul. There are those saints who have yet to rest from their labors. Colleagues and peers, family and friends, the guy who let me take the choice parking spot at Wegmans even though I’m pretty sure he got there first.
Presbyterians lean into a theology where all are saints, and all are sinners. There’s no test, no pre-requisite for being named a saint (and some might therefore suggest there is no accounting for taste). We acknowledge all the saints… recognizing that at the same time all are sinners. We therefore have no roster of saints, but a continuum of folks who are continuing the work of discern God’s call.
Those who know me probably aren’t surprised that I’ve long acknowledged (and at time heartily affirmed) my role as sinner in this world. Somehow, it’s harder for me to claim saintliness. Not because I find it hard to be good (hush!), but because there seems to be inherent responsibility linked to that title. Saints aren’t just good people – they are good because of their connection with God, and their work is to help others make a similar connection. It’s a bit overwhelming, if wonderful.
Saints are those folks at my home church who prepared juice and cookies for the primary choir, or who led the youth group lock-ins. Saints served on the committees that no one wanted to serve on, or who climbed up on the roof to check the shingles. Saints prepared chicken salad in ginormous amounts and taught sign-language to songs. I’ve met saints in subsequent congregations who have ironed the communion cloths for one table and had fed the hungry at another. They’ve visited the sick and bereaved and have faithfully picked up the wreaths for the doors of the church every year. They’ve helped lead worship, and they’ve sat in the pews… and snored in the pews. I can’t possibly be amongst their number, and yet I am.
We all are.
Grateful for all the saints – those who rest from their labors, and those who seem to see no end in sight! Grateful for you.