ALL SAINTS' DAY
November 1, 2015
When you got up this morning, did you pour a cup of coffee and think about or plan all the saintly things you were going to do today? You can answer that once you stop laughing, and whoever responded "Yes" to such a facetious question, please give me a call and tell me how you go about that.
This Sunday is a day of remembrance, gratitude and joy. We sing of all those "who from their labors rest" and recall loved ones whose example made a difference in our lives, and appreciate the contributions of those who have carried out God's work on this earth over the centuries.
An additional aspect of this celebration of saints is that we, the everyday people here in 21st century Iowa, are told that we, too, are saints. It seems presumptuous that we should be included with an array of heroes in the faith such as the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (executed for resistance in Nazi Germany) or Mother Teresa and her life of sacrificial service. The good news (and there's always good news!) is that this sainthood is not something we earn through our own endeavors. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor and author, who writes in "Accidental Saints":
". . . it has been my experience that what makes us the saints of God is not our ability to be saintly but rather God's ability to work through sinners. The title "saint" is always conferred, never earned. Or as the good Saint Paul puts it, "For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
So we can put our good Lutheran modesty aside, and let God get to work in us, enabling us and giving us both the will and the ability to work for whatever he wishes -- and what a privilege it is to give God "good pleasure."
This All Saints' Day is easily connected to our Reformation Sunday observance, as Martin Luther believed in "the priesthood of all believers" -- that all Christians should have direct access to God through prayer and reading the Bible. Besides his work of translating the Bible into German for all to read, he wrote extensively. We are most familiar with the Small Catechism, but there is also a Large Catechism, in which he expresses his conviction that God would continue to use Scripture to speak to and work among individuals and communities. He wrote: "God's word is the treasure that makes everything holy . . . At whatever time God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read, or pondered, there the person, the day, and the work is hallowed, not on account of the external work but on account of the Word that makes us all saints."
Your friend in Christ,