All Saints

All Saints

As the world throws horrors and hardships at me I call to the Saints, I ask them to pray for me and I follow their example in the world. I trust in God’s love for us and I take a step forward. 

Matthew 11:25-30

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Who is a saint here? How about you Cynthia? Are you a saint? How about you David? You?

We hold Saints in very high esteem. We put them in the stained glass, we write books about them we dedicate entire churches to them… but where does that esteem come from? Let’s look at the word saint in scripture. 

Specifically the greek work hagios.

It has several meanings in context – scared, holy, pure or blameless.

St. Paul in his writing addresses ‘the saints at Philippi’ and ‘to the saints of Ephesus. There are other uses but it boils down to one description – a saint is somebody who has committed their life to following Jesus. That could be anyone of us right?

There’s a great story told about a chap called Blondin – a famous tightrope walker in the 19th century. His greatest achievement was to span a rope over the Niagara Falls and walk across it with a wheelbarrow. When he got to the other side he asked the crowd if they believed that he could do it again – they shouted yes! – so he asked for a volunteer to get into the wheelbarrow… nobody stepped forward.

And this is probably at the heart of who God calls to be saints. A saint is somebody that turns totally and completely to Christ. In total faith and dedication they offer Him their all. The submit their feelings, their life to the will of God – they do not submit the will of God to their feelings.

The crowd had seen what Blondin could do, but even then didn’t believe what he could do with them. It’s much the same when we see what Jesus does in the world – but for some reason we don’t see what He can do in us. Jesus holds out his hand to us and asks us to trust Him.

This is not blind trust – this is to submit and give your life in faith to the One who has been revealed to us in scripture. Who died for us, who rose again for us, who gave us a way to be set apart.

And our gospel today speaks of the attitudes that are required to be set apart for Christ.

Blessed are the poor in spirit – not the puffed up with pride, whose soul submits itself to divine authority, fearing punishment.  But to the humble who come to the knowledge of Christ revealed in scripture and sacrament. The soul that is meek and comes to His table in unworthy expectation

Jesus starts with humility – our path to being saints starts with humility. And I know – that’s the hardest thing in the world sometimes. To approach Jesus with humility, to approach scripture with humility, to approach his table with humility, to approach each other with humility………… this is the first of the attitudes Jesus teaches us, and it’s the hardest.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled…

It’s not terribly popular at the moment to declare your righteousness – we’ve lost the meaning of the word. To be righteous is so wrapped up in the hideous words of those with utter certainty that they are right in all things!

To be righteous however, is to be like Abraham. To be righteous is to believe and to act on those beliefs. It was Abrahams actions that showed his faith. In James we read:

Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

Faith and action working together… ‘Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness and he was called God’s friend.  You see a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone…’

On the face of it James is saying that salvation is not by faith alone but also by actions… in opposition to what Paul has to say on the matter ‘for it is by grace that you have been saved’… What James is actually saying, and what Jesus is speaking about in our gospel is that our faith MUST result in actions – we must get in the wheelbarrow.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Getting in the wheelbarrow is hard. You have to get in for the right reasons, you have to be humble in it, you have to be ready to be attacked and reviled – to fall over the falls, you have to submit your entire self to God and His will… that is what makes a saint.

So, who here is a saint? I’m not. I’m trying to be, but I’m not. 

But I am trying to be righteous. I am trying to be a saint and I know I will fall. But nothing will stop me trying, nothing will stop me reaching, nothing will separate me from the love of Christ…

As the world throws horrors and hardships at me I call to the Saints, I ask them to pray for me and I follow their example in the world. I trust in God’s love for us and I take a step forward. 

Then I do it again, and again and again, because I know that Jesus has hold of me.