This month I had a wonderful vacation in Italy with family and good friends. One of the things I noticed, besides the great food and wonderful scenery, was how often I felt surrounded by saints. Churches, streets, cities and statues are everywhere reminding passersby of some saint or religious event in history. Many of the churches have reliquaries which contain all or part of some saint’s mortal remains. These saints all have amazing stories of wonderful acts of faith, miracles performed or how they were martyred because of their beliefs. I enjoyed learning these stories and being reminded of how God has used people throughout history. The Catholic church has a very detailed and specific criteria a person must meet before given the title of Saint. It is their way of saying it is ok to use this person as a model of how a person might live as a Christian. I am not sure I agree with every saint’s life as a model of how I would choose to live. Some of them seemed quite colorful.
We all have saints in our lives. Most of them have not been approved by some official body and mine have lived anything but perfect lives. These saints, like those of Italy, provide us with some example of how we want to live. It may be their example of what it means to love and be loved that brings us comfort when we feel alone. Maybe we remember a kind or encouraging word they shared with us. Possibly, we recognize the sacrifices they made for us or our families and are encouraged to do the same for others. These are all saints too. They may not have a building or street named after them. Few of them have had statues made of them though some may have. These are our saints, your saints and my saints. They are a part of our lives.
Sunday, November 5, you are invited to remember your saints. The names of those members of the congregation who have died since last November will be read as part of worship. A family member will be invited to light a candle as each name is read. As the candle is lighted, a single toll of the tower bell will be rung letting the community around the church know that a saint of the church has been remembered. Members and family are invited to stand quietly for those saints who may have held a significant place in their lives as these things take place.
Not all your saints may have been members of Laurel Heights or you may want to remember someone who died at some other time. As we gather at the communion table, you are invited to light a small devotional candle reminding yourself that every time we gather for communion we are joined by the priesthood of all believers. You may want to light a candle for each of several saints in your life or one single candle for all of them. That is up to you. While we don’t often name our saints as part of our prayers outside of All Saints Sunday, I invite you to remember those you have named as saints and speak to them in your hearts. They can still offer guidance, comfort, assurance and acceptance.
All Saints Sunday is a time of celebration and remembrance. I look forward to spending it with you and all the saints of your life. As we lift each name in prayer I will be praying for those lives touched by each person named. I hope each of you can join me in this special service.
See you Sunday,