Saints

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus...to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, to those saints...who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ...

This is how St. Paul began what we now know as his first letter to the Corinthians. From all evidence, the Christians in Corinth were, to put it mildly, a handful. They were a highly intelligent, lively group of people who, it seems, engaged in disputes with one another over a variety of issues. They argued about the respective value and worth of various spiritual gifts; they dissented over the question of how the Church was to be organized and led; in general, though "hot-wired" into the Spirit, they were a contentious, fractious group. In both of his letters to Corinth, Paul has to step in in order to resolve theological, personal, or organizational tensions. And yet, how does Paul refer to these troublesome Christians? He calls them "saints." Saints.

This situation always comes to my mind when the Church approaches the celebration of All Saints' Day. Truth be told, All Saints' is, after Easter, my favorite festival in the entire Church year, because it serves as such a poignant reminder of our very identity as the saints of God. When most of us hear the word "saint," we probably tend to think of the famous and impressive folk through the centuries who have accomplished great and wondrous feats for the Kingdom of God. And, indeed, these people were saints. But most of them have their own feast days already; and All Saints' is the day when we celebrate the fact that all of us, by virtue of our baptism into Christ Jesus, are called to be saints, and have, in fact, already been made saints in and for him. Saints are not merely the nearly flawless giants of the faith (whom history has all-too-often rendered rather bloodless, as well). Saints are those who, in every age and in countless ways, have tried to be faithful to God when faithfulness was out of fashion; who have sacrificed themselves for others in a world where "sacrifice" is frequently an alien concept; who have, stated simply, tried to live life in a "Godward" direction. Saints are not perfect. They-we-are people who take God seriously, as the poet Anne Sexton put it; who, despite our individual and communal warts and blemishes and shortcomings, are trying to become more and more the people God would have us be; who are growing into the identity that is already ours: the holy ones of God.

Join your fellow saints on All Saints' Sunday, November 3. Let us commit ourselves ever and anew to being God's saints. And, above all, let us rejoice in the pure delight of being God's children, God's blessed ones, God's saints.