November 1st – Saints Alive !



So it’s All Saints Day once again. What on earth is that, and for that matter, what is a Saint? Webster’s Dictionary defines a saint as “a Holy Person, an exceptionally meek character.One who is canonised by the church as a most devout Christian”. But of course the word ’saint’ is used in other ways too, to mean, for example, one who is strictly moral in a world that tends to be immoral. The word is used as a term of abuse by many, even the insulting word ’sanctimonious’ is the same root word as saint, and folks sneer at ‘holy Joe’s’ or ‘Josephines’, and there is a self-justifying formula used a million times a day which begins “Mind you, I’m no saint, but at least I …”. Then follows the self-approving, self-congratulation we’ve been prepared to expect.
The word ’saint’ is also used superstitiously, even to this day, in the personal columns of papers. One will see: “Thanks to St. Jude and St. James for helping me recover my bracelet. Publication promised”. That always amuses me, as if somewhere in heaven there are a couple of long-departed saints saying “If we help her find her bracelet we’ll get our names in the Manchester Evening News”!
While we’re on this, have you any idea how many folk carry St. Christopher’s likeness to assist their travelling? Besides all this, saints are also those unreal figures in a church stained glass window, wearing sick smiles, and a balloon-like halos. Let’s go to the source.
In the Bible saints are ordinary sinners who have been set apart for God’s use. They know they are sinners because the nearer we get to the light, the more any dirt shows up. Saints in the Old Testament were those who trusted in God, and did what He said, as much as was in their power to do so. In the New Testament saints were members of Christ and his family, the Church. Simply that. They were the people to whom Jesus was Lord and Master, and they believed that he had the right to their own deepest loyalty and love, no matter how far short they fell from their own ideal selves. More on this tomorrow. For today, listen to the words of Saint Paul (a saint if ever there was one):Ephesians 3: 8-10
Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given to me:to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known.
Is it not a marvel that in our world, it’s the sinners who all think that they’re saints, and the saints who know that they are sinners?
A Prayer:
God have mercy on me, a sinning saint who trusts you.
Now read Philemon (the entire half page!).

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