A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: SAVORING OUR SAINTS
On the Christian calendar, All Saints’ Day is celebrated every November 1. In the Reformed theological tradition, from which Presbyterians come, there is not a tradition of saints being particularly virtuous or unusually faithful people.
Rather, we follow the tradition of the early church which viewed every follower of Jesus Christ as a “saint,” meaning simply that through their Baptism they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit and have done their best to live in the Spirit and share Christ’s love throughout their lives. And so here at First Pres, we celebrate All Saints’ Day by remembering and giving thanks for all of those who are connected to this congregation in one way or another that have died in the previous year and been received by God as one of Christ’s saints.
This year, All Saints’ Day comes in the midst of a sermon series focusing on some of the most important actions of faith. So far, we have considered the importance of “Going” and “Reforming.” This week, we will be reflecting on how “Savoring” can be a significant act of faith. With that in mind, I invite you to spend a few moments savoring the memory of saints who have been a particularly meaningful part of your life and the life of this congregation.
When I think about the saints who have blessed my life, there are many people who come to mind: parents, teachers, pastors, friends, colleagues, family, even a few passing strangers. There are people in each of those groups who have taught me something important about what it means to be human, to be Christian, to be a friend, to be the person whom I strive to be. Each of you have your own stories of people like that.
And so this week, as we observe All Saints’ Day this Sunday, I invite you to consider the saints who have blessed your life, to savor their memory and the gifts they gave to you, and to give thanks for them, their witness, and their ministry, whether they are still alive or have gone ahead to join the “great cloud of witnesses,” as the writer of Hebrews puts it, of all those faithful saints who have gone before us.
Grace and Peace,