Who are “the saints”?

Sunday was the day is the day in the Christian year known as All Saints Day. It used to be known as All Souls Day, and personally I think the change is for the better. Its purpose is to help us remember and name people who inspire us on our path of faith and life. I think that’s a good thing.

It turns out you can get an app for your phone that will send you a message every day with the name of that day’s saint, whether St Francis of Assissi, St Theresa of Avila, St Patrick or whoever. I’ve never gone quite that far, but I do see the value in remembering the saints. Not only the ‘official’ saints though, as important as they are.

I’m also interested in remembering the people who have been the saints for me, and for the communities of faith of which I’ve been part.
I want to give thanks for…

the people who’ve taught me how to live as a follower of Jesus, in words, actions, and example. As I see it, we best honour our saints by giving thanks for them, remembering what we’ve learned from them, and building on the foundations they’ve established in us.

Several times this week I’ve talked and listened to others as we’ve shared the stories of our saints, and why they are so. It’s been an enriching and delightful experience. Our choices have ranged across people we’d known in our childhood, Sunday School and other teachers, public figures, adults in our churches who’d influenced us in helpful ways.

While watching a DVD with the discussion group this week, I realised that the theologian and Biblical scholar Marcus Borg has been one of my saints. Marcus, along with a couple of others, has helped me greatly in my wrestling with questions of faith and practice over the years. Not only did he help me find language for my wrestling, but he enabled me to see that the kinds of struggles and discoveries I was experiencing have always been part of Christian traditions. Marcus died this year, and I will always be grateful for the ways in which he helped me to continue and to grow as a disciple of Jesus.


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