I am praying for the laity and clergy of the Mountain Sky Conference as we prepare to gather for Sunday worship.
This Sunday is All Saints Day, a day to remember those who have died in the past year. It has always been one of my favorite Sundays as we sing about saints and remember our loved ones who have passed on.
In the play “Agnes of God”, Mother Superior laments "There are no saints today. Good people, yes. But extraordinarily good people? I'm afraid those we are sorely lacking."
Mother Superior reflects an age that has lost its ability to identify saints and heros. In fact, we seem to be incapable of believing in them anymore. Like supermarket tabloids, we seem intent on dishing up the dirt on good people. We are suspicious of them--what is their true motivation? Why should we offer them our trust?
We need saints, however. We need people who will offer us an alternative vision of human life, one that stands in contrast to contemporary attitudes and worldly conditions that lead us away from the life God offers us. We need people who will restore our faith again, enabling us to trust and love more fully.
George Gallop, Jr. in his book The Saints Among Us, highlights the existence of "everyday saints"--ordinary people who live generally obscure lives of authentic Christian faithfulness. Saints past and present, according to Gallop, show us that ordinary people can live extraordinary lives of meaning, joy, and transforming impact on others when they love God and neighbor with all their heart, soul, strength and mind.
Gallop found that for contemporary saints, God is a vital part of their lives, and they respond to the experience of God with exceptional commitment. The outcome of this journey inward to God is a journey outward to meet the world's needs--they live in service to others in the just and compassionate spirit of Christ.
Gallop's findings reflect a verse from the hymn, "I sing a song of the saints of God":
They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.
Who have been the ordinary people in your everyday life who lived close to God, and are our contemporary saints? Your parents or siblings? A teacher? A friend or partner? What vision have they shared with you? How has your life, and the world, been made a better place by their lifestyle of faithfulness?
As you give thanks for the saints of your life, may you remember this line from the hymn: “For the saints of God are just folks like me, and I mean to be one too.”