Over the next couple of weeks we will be focused on a group we call “the saints.” That doesn’t just refer to the apostles like St. Peter or St. Paul, but even the folks who came forth to build our own church here in Redding, and each person over the years who has invested heart, soul and sweat into the ministries of this congregation. On November 5, we will read the names of recent saints – those connected to our church family who have gone home to be with God during this past year.
It’s easy to think of those who are no longer with us as being more “saintly.” We tend to focus on the noble qualities of each person, rather than the faults. But St. Paul really did think of each Christian person as one of the saints. He addresses his letter to the Corinthians to those who are “sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints…” The word for saints is connected to the word for sanctified, which means those who have been set apart for God! For those earliest Christians (and hopefully for us today) there was a real sense that God had touched their hearts and marked them for a holy purpose.
One of the things this says to me is that we’re connected to all who have come before us because we try to pursue the claim that God has placed upon our hearts. And we are indebted to those who came before us, because we can begin where they left off. Harold Bosley in one of his writings quotes a medieval philosopher who said: “We are like dwarfs seated on the shoulders of giants. We see more things than the ancients and things more distant, but it is due neither to the sharpness of our sight nor the greatness of our stature; it is simply because they have lent us their own.”
As you consider the saints who have been a part of your life, remember that we have the opportunity to continue what they have started. We too can be part of that “great cloud of witnesses” who were called and claimed each in their own way, and who, in exercising their gifts, became the heart and hands and love of Christ!