"for all the saints"
Oh, may thy people, faithful, true, and bold,
fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and win, with them, the glorious crown of gold.
(vs. 3, #636, hear
1 - Hey, Pete, who were these saints weíre supposed to
2 - They were common, ordinary people - like you and me - whom
God called to become extraordinary.
1 - They were the ones who have "saint" for their
first name and have churches named after them, right?
2 - Well, yes - those persons were/are saints, but a saint isnít
just someone so named by a pope long after theyíre dead.
1 - What do you mean?
2 - Youíve got your Bible. Turn to the beginning of 1
Corinthians. This letter starts out like many of the others in the
New Testament, and reveals something about what a
"saint" is. Why donít you read the first two verses.
1 - "Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by
the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God
that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus,
called to be saints, together with all those who in every place
call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and
2 - Okay. You tell me. Who is a saint there?
1 - A person in that church?
2 - Yes. Go on.
1 - People "who are sanctified in Christ Jesus."
What does that mean?
2 - They are "made holy" by God in Jesus Christ. They
are "set apart" for God to use.
1 - So, then, a "saint" is someone who has been
"sanctified?" Who has been "made holy?"
"set apart?" or "called to be" a saint?
2 - Good job! Now, do you think that only involved one or two
persons in that church?
1 - No, it sounds like Paul meant everyone.
2 - You got it! He was writing to all the saints: common,
ordinary people - like you and me - whom God called to become
extraordinary. And not just "dead guys" from long ago...
1 - or "dead women!"
2 - Indeed. But also, everyone "who in every place
calls on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 - Like me?
2 - And me.
1 - And all these people gathered here?
2 - And those who helped pave the way for us.
1 - I get it. "For all the saints who from their labors
rest" means our fathers and mothers in the faith, going all
the way back to the beginning - to those who first stepped out by
faith when God called them to be saints, set them apart for a holy
2 - We sometimes call the saints who have died, the
"church triumphant," because they have finished their
fight. In Christ Jesus they have triumphed, they are part of the
heavenly "cloud of witnesses" who are now with God.
1 - Then what about the saints still living?
2 - We are the "church militant." We are still
"fighting the good fight" (1
Timothy 1:18, 6:12,
Timothy 4:7), still "running with perseverance
the race that is set before us" (Hebrews
1 - Iíve noticed that some churches celebrate an "All
Saints Day." Does ours?
2 - Not really, though itís good to remember those who have
walked this path before us. Maybe we should recall the saints from
our fellowship who have died in the past year.
1 - Iím kind of new here, so I donít know who they are.
2 - Thatís okay. In fact, one of our latest was also someone
new. For many years, Lillian (or "Boots" as everyone
called her) Reichart was our next door neighbor.
1 - As in the pretty garden on the other side of the parking
2 - Yes. Along the way of fighting the illness which eventually
took her earthly life, she recommitted herself to Christ, joining
our church a month before she died.
1 - So, she was a "saint?"
2 - I doubt she would have called herself that, but yes - God
in Christ had set her apart for something more. Godís holiness,
after all, is greater than Lou Gehrigís disease.
1 - Howís her husband doing?
2 - Heís ... doing. I heard tell he was in church last Sunday
for the first time.
1 - Do you think God is calling him?
2 - Hmmm. I do believe that might be so. Just like God was
calling brother Verlin Tombaugh. Of course, Verlin answered the
call much earlier. You would have liked him, Mandy.
1 - Why?
2 - Well, he was a real advocate for young people. On several
occasions he would stand up in church and call the rest of us to
task, saying that we needed to be open to change; that if youth
had different ideas about things, we needed to listen and make
room for what God was doing through them. Since he was one of our
oldest members, a truly wise man, we listened.
1 - I wish I could have met him.
2 - Someday you may, for cancer did not fell this great oak of
a saint. Heís part of the "church triumphant," the
"great a cloud of witnesses" who serve as
examples to us even now.
1 - Death isnít the end.
2 - Itís only the beginning. Thatís true of Beatrice
Currens, who also died this year. I miss visiting her, for she
always ministered to me more than I did to her. Sort of like
Verlin. I continue to carry with me her "do nothiní
1 - Her "do nothiní window?"
2 - Yeah. There was a spot in her home where this very
energetic lady would go and just sit, looking out the window and
doing nothing. Well, actually, God was doing something in those
moments. Prayer, you see, is not just what we do, itís what God
does. Sometimes, in fact, we do nothing. Itís God who makes us
holy, even there in front of our own "do nothiní
1 - She sounds like a very special woman.
2 - She was. I think she would have liked you, Mandy.
1 - I just arrived too late to know her.
2 - No, you didnít. As long as we remember her, the example
of her life in Christ lives on - just as surely as we believe that
she is alive in Christ, now part of that heavenly cloud of
witnesses that surrounds us all the time. We are never alone. Godís
"Holy" Spirit is always near.
1 - This is the time of year we talk about spirits and ghosts.
2 - You know, donít you, that the Holy "Ghost" (as
Godís Spirit is sometimes called), is more than a Halloween
1 - Yes, I do. Itís this Holy "Spirit" that helps
make us "holy," that makes us "saints," right?
2 - Again, good job! Did you know that the day before "All
Saints Day" is also called "All Hallows Eve," or
1 - I knew that!!!???
2 - Once upon a time, before Christians started transforming
the world around them, Halloween was a pagan holiday - but it wasnít
much of a holiday. It took place in the Fall of the year, as days
got shorter and nights longer, and people became afraid of the
dark, and scared about the coming winter - whether they had enough
food to make it until Spring. "Samhain," as it was
called by the Druids, involved offerings to the spirits who ruled
1 - Real spooky! How did Christians change that?
2 - Well, by placing All Saints Day where they did, full
of examples of how believers had made it through really
frightening times with Godís help, showing how the Lord called
ordinary people to do extraordinary things, to push back the
darkness, to bring light to the world, All Hallows Eve
became a time for people to laugh at their fears, and thus rob the
darkness of its power. Though he wasnít a big fan of All
Saints Day, the reformer Martin Luther once said, "The
best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of
Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear
1 - So, Halloween is a time to laugh at evil. We sure could use
some laughter right now, with a sniper no longer on the loose, but rumors of
war still in the air.
2 - God is greater than evil, and calls out common, ordinary
people - like you and me - to do extraordinary things, and thus
overcome the darkness.
And when the strife is fierce, the suffering long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
(vs. 5, #636, hear tune)
An excellent article speaking in favor of All Hallows Eve,
Halloween," or see also "Christian
History Corner: Festival of Fears."
On the other hand, you might be persuaded by the article, "The
Dark Side of Halloween."