A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Planting the seeds

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 our sermon series on “Fruit That Will Last,” in which we are considering the seeds that have been planted through the ministry of this church that are bearing fruit now, and the seeds that we are being called to plant now to bear fruit into the future.

It occurs to me that this is a particularly fitting lens through which to consider the saints who have been part of our lives and the life of this congregation. When I think about the saints who have blessed my life, all of them have planted some kind of seed that has blossomed and born fruit that has helped sustain me in my own journey of life and faith: parents, teachers, pastors, friends, colleagues, 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, who have planted seeds in your life that continue to bear fruit for 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.