Saints Among Us
Saint’s Among Us,
All Saint’s Sunday:
Who here is a Saint? Go on point them out to me…What no one? No one here is going to claim to be a Saint. I wonder why that could be…Our gospel today leads us to think of God as a God of inversions, a God who turns things upside down…the poor are the kingdom recipients, the hungry will be filled, mourners will laugh, and those who are oppressors will be oppressed.
God takes the world as we know it and invites us to see it in a new way. Jesus invites us to live in the world as it is now, sinful, broken, harmful and hurting, and yet we are invited to live as if, and act as if we are instead already living in the world to come. We are to Love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who abuse us. Jesus that seems very hard, and indeed it is. You would have to be a saint to live like that…
And you see that’s how we ended up where we are today, we ended up in a world where the only people we will call saints are those that are already dead. Why? Because we know their story. Their earthly struggle with sin and temptation is no more. And we feel we can balance the scales and say yeah, they did all right. And in the Roman Church the process of calling someone a Saint goes even farther.
To be a saint in the Catholic Church you typically have to wait 5 years after their death….why is that? Well when someone dies all the good and the bad comes out. And sometimes we hear stories about our heroes we never knew before. And it allows the immediate emotions and the grief to pass so we can see people “objectively”
The second step then is to not just rely on what is well known, but to thoroughly investigate the person’s life to see whether they lived their lives with enough holiness and virtue to be considered for sainthood.
If they pass that step then the Congregation for the Causes of Saints scrutinizes the evidence of the candidate's holiness. Not only to see that yes they were wholly, but also that through their work and signs people have been drawn to Christ through their example. If the Congregation approves the case, it is passed to the Pope.
If the Pope decides that the person lived a life of "heroic virtue", they can then be called "venerable". The final steps are then to have verified miracles that occur when someone prayed for your intercession after death.
It’s no wonder then that there aren’t a whole lot of Saints among us, but remember this is a process of the Catholic Church. In the Anglican Church we have the Saints of the Catholic Church, plus people from our tradition who lived a good life and led others to Christ. In fact, we have a whole book of them, but we still also wait until people die to call them a saint. Why? Quite simply this is one of those, this is just how we’ve always done it. We traditionally have decided to wait until death to decide who gets to be called a saint, but I think we’re missing out if we only call people a Saint when they’re dead!
Paul writes in Ephesians today of himself and the other apostles “In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.”
Those who had seen Christ, were destined by God for the purpose of firstly having their hope in Christ, and then living to give Christ praise. Paul goes on to say, “In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.”
You also dear brothers and sisters by hearing the word, and believing in Christ’s life, death and resurrection have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever! We remind ourselves of our inheritance in Christ when we renew our baptismal promises. Every apostle, except Judas, is a Saint of the Church…but it is my argument that every disciple, and every follower of Christ is called to be a Saint. And not just accorded that title when they die, but to be here and now a saint among us and the Bible backs me up on this.
Remember how I said, several weeks ago that I was not called here to be a super Priest, nor was I called to rule over you, but instead my work was to direct you and guide you. It is my role to guide you to Sainthood, that’s right all y’all! All y’all are called to be saints.
My favorite verse from Ephesians and the summary of my call is this “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” (Eph 4:12)
Remember our God is a God of inversions that is turning death into life in the Resurrection. I present to you today a dare…can we accept that God is calling us to invert our view of Sainthood? Can we dare to claim that we are all being called to be Saints, and not just be called that when we end up in the memorial garden?
You may not be a Saint yet but claim that you are called to be one. Therefore, like Paul, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of that to which you have been called…
The gift of Christ to the Church is apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and shepherds to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. The work of building up the ministry is too much for me, the good news is that it isn’t my work to do…My work is to equip you, the Saints to do the works of ministry for building up the body of Christ.
As we turn towards Advent and a New Year and a New Season and new life in the Church, let’s dare to claim our calling, to be the Saints of God, alive, active, and at work for the gospel. And let’s use our time, our talent and our treasure to build up the whole household of God together!
And if this high calling scares you, GOOD, you better believe I did not feel equipped to be a priest when God called me, but the good news is God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called. God is calling you to be a saint, will you trust me to help equip you to live into that calling?