Yesterday was All Saints Day. Admittedly, this is a day created by the church of the past to offer a more Christian focus for celebrating the transition from October to November. It never quite eclipsed the celebration of Halloween, but it did add an important day of remembrance to the church calendar.
When the Bible refers to “saints” it is clearly a reference to all Christian believers. There is no use of the word in scripture that suggests a specific person or group of people set apart within the faith community. The early church however, chose to use the word as a way of identifying those whose lives reflected the life of Christ and the best of Christian teaching. It was a way to lift up good examples of the faith so that people could know what Christian faithfulness looked like.
There is a lot of debate about how the church should embrace the theology of saints in our day, but the idea of looking for great examples of the faith is certainly a good one. As I continue to think about ways to better organize my life and make time for everything that matters, I am drawn to those people in my life whose lives demonstrate virtues, values and actions that I can replicate to make my life better.
I think of my grandfather who clearly understood that all of life was lived in connection to Jesus Christ and that even the most mundane acts could be expressions of faith. I think of a former parishioner who served as a missionary for many years and whose life reflected a profound ability to trust God even when circumstances seemed insurmountable and resources unavailable. I think of my wife who patiently offers her best in all of the details of life letting her family know they are loved by the attention to the multitude of “little things,” all the while, sharing the love and joy of her faith.
These and so many others including, my mother, family, teachers, colleagues, friends and countless other people in my life, are sources of inspiration for my Christian faith and examples for ways to face difficult challenges. They are “saints” for me, who point the way to successfully navigating the waters of life in the light of Jesus Christ. But, I am not the only one with such saints. All of us have people who, as gifts of God, bless our lives. They illustrate by practice, what God teaches us through the Word and the Spirit.
Who are your saints? What do they teach you about successful Christian living? How can their example strengthen you when you are week and direct you when you are lost? Take time to appreciate these gifts of God in your life and learn from them the lessons they have learned from God.