Today, on All Saints’ Sunday, we honor the saints who have gone before us, “all the saints who from their labors rest,” as the hymn says. This may seem like an odd, historical exercise until, in the afterglow of Reformation Sunday, we remember that we are all saints. While we celebrate the great disciples and martyrs throughout history today, we also celebrate the saints we were blessed to know ourselves. We remember with thanks those who exemplified a life lived in faith and made us better followers of Christ as they taught, led, and loved us – parents and grandparents, teachers and pastors, friends and neighbors.
It is also an appropriate day on which to consider a simple question: On some future All Saints’ Sunday, will someone be giving thanks for you? Are you pouring God’s love into the lives of those around you, sharing the gifts He has given you and lifting the burdens the world has given them? Even as we give thanks for those who show us the way to follow the Lord, are we showing others that same way? Are we inviting those who need to hear His Word to walk alongside us? Are we choosing humility over pride, charity over avarice, and love over hate?
We have responsibilities as saints, even as we continue to struggle with being sinners. We are called to lift each other up, in fellowship, prayer, and service. We are called to advance the Kingdom through selfless contributions of our time, talents, and treasures. We are commanded to love and forgive, not judge and despise. We are commanded to choose light over darkness.
The life of a saint is demanding. It requires thought, prayer, sacrifice, and restraint. But the life of a sinner is hollow, filled with pain, fear, and deceit. Which side of the ledger do you want to live on? How do you want to be remembered?
May God give us all the strength to be numbered among the saints, now and always.
“Here stand the clear plain words: All the saints are sinners and remain sinners. But they are holy because God in His grace neither sees nor counts these sins, but forgets, forgives, and covers them.”
Martin Luther, 1528