On Sunday, we’ll observe the Feast of All Saints. And, we’ll help God make some saints when we Baptize two children. By water and the Holy Spirit, they are going to be sanctified through Baptism. They are going to become “holy ones of the Most High” who “shall receive the kingdom.” I promise you, neither of them has volunteered to have this holy water poured over them any more than they have volunteered to be born with their skin color, born to their parents, or born into their families. Neither will they volunteer to have vaccinations, learn to wear clothes, take baths, or brush their teeth. They won’t volunteer to stay with the babysitter, go to school, come home before curfew, or fall in love. On Sunday, without their consent, we are going to pour some water over them, rub some oil on their heads, and declare that they are saints – Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked as Christ’s own for ever. We are going to vow to do whatever it takes to help them grow to claim the new identity given to them in Baptism, to be formed as saints of God as we have been.
Whatever else they may be called during the course of their lives, in God’s eyes they are saints – blessed, sanctified, made holy, not by their own will but by the will of God. And, by virtue of the fact that someone baptized us, so are we. We are saints of God by grace and adoption. Above every other reason, when we return here week by week to worship with other saints, we return to be reminded who we are and to give thanks – to offer Eucharist – for the divine gift of and vocation to sainthood. For we were created by God to bear a divine image, to be shaped and formed by the will of our Creator, to be filled with the fullness that only God can give.
We become members of the Church through Baptism. The Church is a unique institution in God’s eternal purpose, where the saints live in unity with God, one another, and those who have gone before us. We sometimes speak of the Church’s message, but if you read the New Testament carefully, you will see that it is the other way around. It’s not so much that the Church has a Message as that the Message has a Church. The saints, who are the Church, are the delivery system for the Message. That is our inheritance; our gift from God.
A colleague of mine enjoys telling of a time when a little boy was visiting his grandfather, whose church had beautiful stained glass windows like ours. The little boy asked his grandfather who the people in the windows were. His grandfather told him, “Those are saints.” And the boy exclaimed, “Oh, I get it! Saints are people that the light shines through.”
Saints of God, you and I are people through whom God’s light shines. Throughout our lives, as our wills are transformed and we grow less resistant to God’s grace at work in us, the light of Christ shines more brilliantly through us.
I recall a wonderful woman who often used an expression that has all but vanished from our language. She would say, “Be a saint.” “Be a saint and help me with these packages.” “Be a saint and run to the store for me.” “Be a saint and help me with the dishes.”
Jesus call to us is to “Be a saint.” Or, even better, “Be the saint I have created you to be.” Be a saint and help me feed the hungry. Be a saint and help me raise the children to know, to love, and to follow me. Be a saint and help me heal the sick. Be a saint and help me deliver my message of God’s love. Be a saint. Be a saint. Be a saint.
I'll see you in Church!
The Very Reverend Ronald D. Pogue
St. Andrew’s Cathedral