Rev. Pat Raube from RevGals has this week’s Friday Five:
Thursday marked the feast of All Saints, observed by many throughout the Christian world. And many of us will observe this feast in our churches come Sunday. As a Catholic schoolgirl, I certainly had one very specific idea of what constituted a ‘saint.’ As a woman in her prime (ahem!) who also happens to be a Presbyterian minister… I have other thoughts!
How about you? Let’s talk today about saints, how we have understood them throughout our lives. Who inspires us? Who challenges us? Whose lives have stirred us to greater discipleship? Who just has the best story we’ve ever heard? Try to answer these questions in each of the following categories:
This is way outside my ecclesiastical comfort zone. I didn’t go to a church that had “saint” in its name until college (and truth be told, I only went there because I had a gig as a soprano soloist!) We might have said “Saints Above!” or heard about “Saint Swithins” or the “Saint Vitus’ Dance” but that was pretty much the extent of it. So for my fellow saints who know more on this topic, I am about to expose my ignorance. 🙂
1. Saints of the Bible. This was really NOT part of my religious upbringing. I heard of “The Apostle Paul” not “Saint Paul.” Even Hebrews 11, which I have heard referred to at “The Saints Chapter” by some of my pastor friends, I saw more as the “Heroes of the Faith”. Add to this quandary my awareness that biblical history skims past women and their contributions to the early Church, particularly in the age of Nero and his persecution of Christians. To me, there are many in that “great cloud of witnesses” whom we do not know.
2. Saints from Church History/ World History. Again, I struggle. If you mean martyrs, then I often think of those who are not canonized, but who changed the public response to their current events:
Those killed in uprisings in Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, and China… nameless to us, but not to God.
3. Saints from Our Own Lives. My parents. Some professors who believed in me when I was ready to give up. You are not named, but you know who you are. Thank you.
4. Saints from Pop Culture. A football team? A city in Minneapolis? They have the word “saint” in their monikers. There are some people who come to mind. I smile as I think of them, because they would never, ever put themselves in this category. Yet they stand out as people who bring a prophetic voice to Christendom today. Sometimes at their peril, they metaphorically “rub our noses in it” to remind us that we all tend towards self-preservation instead of spiritual growth. I think these folks go above and beyond the Call in the Name of Christ:
- Jim Wallis
- Brian McLaren
- Nadia Boltz-Weber
- Michael Kelly Blanchard
- Anne Lamott
- Jennifer Knapp
5. Saints Absolutely No One Else in the World Would Ever Call Saints. That wonderful mom, who, seeing that I was on my last bit of emotional energy, loved on my children, playing with them during church services or women’s Bible study. Never once did you ever suggest that I “should” help in the nursery since I had young children. Instead, you played a “Grace card” and encouraged me to use my gifts as God gave them, not where a Church Society suggested a female “should” be serving. In essence, you freed me to move into my Call in ways that I only can begin to understand.
So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2 Common English Bible