“1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.”Hebrews 12:1-3
All Saints Day is coming up, we will celebrate it in the church on Nov. 7th. Last year we remembered saints that had gone before us, this year let’s remember saints that are still among us. All of God’s children qualify as saints because we are simultaneously both saint and sinner (simul justus et peccator). If you have lost anyone in the last year though, I would encourage you to bring their photo and let the congregation, the community of believers, help you remember and celebrate them. Otherwise, bring a photo of a living saint for the “Saints” table starting Oct 3rd .
Why is this day important to us? All Saint’s Day reminds each of us that we are part of God’s story, part of His family. Our lives belong to him. Each Sunday when we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we commune with all the saints, all those who have come before us, all those with us and all those yet to be. I hope this is comforting you.
As we commune with the saints, we remember the One who makes saints. The one who loves sinners. Our sinful self is all that we have to give to God. Our brokenness is all we can offer. Even as we live in the righteousness of Christ, we claim this righteousness only at his bidding and only because of his sacrifice. On our own we offer nothing. Our best deeds are like filthy rags before God. (See Isaiah 64:6)
We exist in this juxtaposition of sinfulness and righteousness. We receive the Gospel, the Good News of God who loves us, redeems us and sanctifies us. He opens our ears to him. He changes our hearts and writes his law in us, that we may begin to live lives a bit more pleasing to him. He does not guide us to the self-help section of the bookstore. He does not give us Seven Steps to get better or be better or think better or live better. What he gives us is himself. What he gives us is salvation. He gives because we can never get good enough to earn it. So, he came and earned it for us.
In this process of making saints, the Lord took your sins, and he became your sin. He suffered the wages of your sin, so that you might live. And what did you do? What part did you play? You were not even here yet! You had no choice in God’s saving grace. You are here because HE chose you. He made you part of his family and has given you many, many brothers and sisters, as many as there are stars in the sky and sand grains by the sea. These are fellow sinners redeemed by the blood of Christ. This is your family. These are your people, your fellow saints, some are home, some are here, and some are yet to come. God knows each person intimately, just as he knows you.
Happy October and Happy All Saint’s Day. During October, bring a photo of a saint of your choosing (living or recently deceased) and place them on the table. Let’s celebrate God’s family, your family!