You are a saint of God

As a child, I remember seeing Mr. Ed and Mrs. Violet. They sat up towards the front of the sanctuary, always side-by-side, never far apart, and smiled when you said, “hello.” Mr. Ed and Mrs. Violet were short people, and they lovingly called one another, the Keebler elves. They would laugh and tell me how after church they’d head home to share a 4 inch pizza. And every time I saw them, they’d say to me, a young, confused, child who at the time was reeling from my parents’ divorce: “We love you, Nick. We’re so proud of you.” Saints—both of them. I remember Ms. Jackson, who after hearing me preach for the first time, approached me after the service and said: “I don’t know where you got those ideas! Jesus would be rolling in his grave if he heard what you said!” She was a saint, no doubt about it. I have heard your stories; you’ve shared some of parts of your lives with me; I’ve held your children; I’ve listened to your experiences at school. And you—you—are a saint of God. For to be a saint does not mean you are exceptionally pious or sacrificially dedicated beyond all others. No, to be a saint, is to be made new through the waters of baptism and the love of God. This is how St. Paul addresses the people of God: “to the holy ones (saints) and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ” (Col. 1:2). We are made holy, not by our pious living, but the extraordinary and liberating love of God in Christ. So, as we celebrate All Saints’ Day this coming Sunday, we will baptize and welcome into the Body of Christ, another beloved child of God—another saint. We will be surrounded by one another as beautiful, loving, and imperfect people. We will remember friends and family who are no longer with us, now taken into the loving bosom of our God. On Sunday, we remember, not just the pious and religiously holy ones, but also the foolish ones and wise ones, the annoying ones and overbearing ones, the joyous ones and the despairing ones, all those people who have been mothers and fathers of our lives, and whom we loved and loved us imperfectly and yet have brought out of us some kind of small, growing sainthood of our own. You know who they are and how they make us—for better or for worse—who we are today. It is the very fullness of life, and life in Christ, that we celebrate this coming Sunday. I look forward to being together.