On Sunday, we’ll observe the Feast of All Saints. Normally, on this feast day, we help God make some saints when we administer the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Due to our COVID protocols, we won’t be able to do that this year. But we will renew our own Baptismal vows. We will recall that by water and the Holy Spirit, we are sanctified through Baptism. Through Baptism, we become “holy ones of the Most High” who “receive the kingdom.” We have been Baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked as Christ’s own for ever. Throughout our lives, we are formed as saints of God who live in communion with all the rest of the saints.
Whatever else we may be called during the course of our lives, in God’s eyes we are saints – blessed, sanctified, made holy, not by our own will but by the will of God. We are saints of God by grace and adoption. Above every other reason, when we return week by week, whether in person or virtually, 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 the 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. 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.
The Very Rev'd Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church