There’s a hymn in my old Episcopal Hymnal (words by William Walsham How):
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be for ever blessed.
Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might:
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, the one true Light.
Today is All Saints Day according to the liturgical calendar and today I am so thankful for all those who went before me and paved the way….the saints and martyrs, yes, but also those who have influenced my life for the better. There were the early Christians who forged the path, many giving up their lives for their faith; there were those like John Calvin and Martin Luther, who stood up for the faith; there was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who in dying as a martyr became a testament to faith. Many of these are well known and their lives are examples for all of us.
But there are also the unheralded saints….a Sunday School teacher who touched me with her love and understanding; a Christian friend who stood by me when my world seemed to be falling apart (Betty, where are you?); two beautiful women who were my mentors in learning about prayer (thanks, Sallie and Gail!); the Friday morning prayer group in Omaha (Lynette, Michelle, Judy H., Judy J., Laurie, and Erin.) And there are the people we pass in the street who share a smile or kind word; the person ahead of me in line at the toll booth one day who paid my toll; the guy who gave up his seat on the bus; the man who hefted my suitcase in to the overhead bin. Kind words and kind actions are born of a kind heart….I believe that is the making of a “saint.” And so today I give thanks for all of the saints in my life…those who have gone on ahead and those who still remain…you have blessed and continue to bless the world with your presence.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
Note: This is a re-post of a blog entry I wrote on another blog in 2010. There will be a few such this month….those entries were meaningful to me, but I rarely go to that old blog anymore.