All Saints Day

Three saints turned up at my house today.

They insisted they enjoy weeding (which seems very strange to me).

Saints must be some kind of miracle workers.

Another saint turned up later, just as we were finishing dinner.

He was accompanied by the sound of an engine and he wore purple ear mufflers.

He insisted he enjoys ride-on mowing. This time I believed him because I think I’d like it too, but it was still pretty strange for a man to drive several blocks on a mower just to mow our yard.

Saints must be amazing people.

Many of the Christians I’ve grown up with don’t know what All Saints Day is, so I wouldn’t be surprised if many non-Christians don’t know much about it either. However, as my Catholic friends could easily tell you, All Saints Day is for the commemoration and remembrance of the many Christians who’ve died and gone before us.

For me, this day helps me dwell on two particular Biblical images that are dear to my heart. One is the idea from Hebrews 12 that each individual Christian is not alone, but is surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who’ve followed faithfully through the storms of life. This cloud of sisters and brothers are urging us on in the faith. It’s a team effort.

Another precious image is found in Revelation 7 of an innumerable multitude of people gathered around God’s throne in heaven. One of the names for those people is “saints”.

It’s very easy for us to caricature what “saint” means because it’s almost an insult sometimes in our culture. We use it to describe people who seem to think they’re above normal people, they’re “saintly”. We sometimes use it positively to commend someone for their actions, “oh! You’re a saint!” But ultimately, being a saint has very little to do with being nice or snobbish!

A saint doesn’t have to have been hammered upside-down to a cross or boiled in oil to achieve that status. They don’t have to have preached to birds or founded a religious order. They don’t actually even have to have performed three miracles.

In the way the writers of the New Testament put it, everyone who follows Jesus is a saint. It just means “set apart”, “a Jesus follower”. For example, Ephesians 3:18, Philippians 4:21, 1 Corinthians 16:1, Revelation 17:6 and Hebrews 13:24 show that it’s a commonly used term for believers. Some of whom, sadly, would have faced martyrdom, but not all. Some of whom who would have led churches, but not all.

The main qualification for being a saint is following Jesus which means you’re in His family. This can still lead you down many strange, wonderful and fearful paths. But the most amazing thing about saints is that they’re all around you.

And they’re not saints because they are nice but they are nice because they are saints. They’re not saints because they’re so holy. They’re holy because they’re saints. They take care of the family of God and extend the hand of friendship to those around them because they have been welcomed into the kingdom of God and given a crown of righteousness.

Sometimes that crown looks like purple ear mufflers.

I am so thankful to be part of a great cloud. I’m so glad I don’t follow alone. And I’m especially thankful to have some precious saints around me who are good examples to follow. I want to call them saintly, but it’s not super power. They’re just following Jesus in the paths he’s leading them down. Maybe no one will paint a beautiful icon of them, but today, for me, saints wear floppy hats, are surrounded by piles of weeds they’ve pulled out, and drive Honda ride-on mowers.

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