Sunday, November 2, 2014

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God

I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green;
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one, too.

Today is All Saints Sunday. We remember all of those who have died in the faith of Christ, celebrate their lives, and recognize that there is one communion of saints. The Lord calls people from all walks of life to be the Chrch and serve God in everything they do. They toiled and fought and lived and died, all in fairh, all in the love of God, and throughout their journeys God was with them. They are the ones on whose shoulders we stand. They taught us about God, they loved us, and they showed us how to live our faith. They encouraged us, mourned with us, and rejoiced with us. Without them, we would not be the people we are; without them, the Body would be weaker.

They were not perfect, but they are the saints of God by the grace of God, and by that same grace we can join them.

 They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
And his love made them strong;
And they followed the right for Jesus' sake
The whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast
And there's not any reason, no, not the least,
Why I shouldn't be one too.

God's love is a place of strength, and when we love God we are better able to accept God's love and draw on the strength, hope, and comfort it provides so that we might do the work God intends for us. Saints do not all have the same story because the Church needs diversity-- there are different roles, and we are given different gifts and talents by the Spirit-- but they have in common this love of God. If we obey the greatest commandments, the commandments concerning love, then we walk in the light, and God is in us.

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 at school, on the street, in the store,
In church, by the sea, in the house next door;
They are saints of God, whether rich or poor,
And I mean to be one, too.

Too often we think of saints as only martyrs or people for whom churches are named. People long gone. But to do so is to neglect our belief in the one communion of saints. We believe in a Church Triumphant, those who have passed on, and a Church Militant, those still on earth, and we are all united in communion. That is part of the power of the Eucharist: we partake with all the saints, proclaiming Christ's death and sacrifice for us, praying that we might be the Body in the world.

All around us there are saints of God, and while we may meet them at church, people are saints because they live their lives in faith , joy, and love. That means we can encounter saints anywhere, in any circumstances, and we are all the Church together, brightening the world by the Light. It means that, no matter what our backgrounds are, we can be saints, too.

In particular memory of Mayor Thomas Menino, Episcopal Bishop Tom Shaw, and United Methodist Bishop Martin McLee, who joined the Church Triumphant over the past few months.

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