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Remembering the Saints (Page 3)

As Baptists we’re more likely to know the date of the Strictly Come Dancing final than the traditional dates in the Christian calendar. Yet the purpose of this calendar, and the major feasts we do celebrate, is to remind us on a regular basis of some important truths that are can still inspire and encourage us in our everyday life.

Yesterday was All Saints Day. If you ‘Google’ All Saints, you’ll probably be confronted with the discography of a 90’s girl band, or the online catalogue from a high street retailer before you get to the real deal. All Saints Day was established in 837 AD as a Christian festival. It’s emphasis and the way that it is practiced varies, but in general, Christians who pause to remember on All Saints Day do so in the belief that there is a spiritual bond between the church triumphant (those in Glory) and the church militant (those living today). It is a reminder that no believer is ever alone. Through faith and baptism, we become and remain eternally members of one family in Christ.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:4-6)

Our response to Jesus’ invitation “Come, follow me” connects us to a company of saints that no-one can number. It transcends culture. I am as connected to a believer in Ghana as I am to a believer in Godstone. It transcends denomination. I am as connected to an Episcopalian in New York as a Baptist in Crawley. It transcends even death.

The point of All Saint’s Day is to remember and celebrate the breadth and depth of the Christian believing family who witness to their faith in Christ in their everyday life and to inspire us to do the same.

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 (Heb. 12:1-2). So, who are these saints that inspire us? If we concentrate too much on the great saints that we have heard of from the history books, (St. Peter, Tertullian, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa …) we don’t so much take encouragement as feel inferior to them; unable to match up to their towering faith and virtue.

The ones I connect with are probably totally unknown to you. They are the saints who have connected with my life and shaped my faith because of the way they lived faithful lives of simple discipleship. I think of my uncle John who served his Lord in Ecuador and in England whatever the cost. Who brought me to faith and saw what I could be as if he were using God’s eyes and not his own. I think of Mick Martin who was captain of my Campaigner Brigade (think ‘Boys Brigade’ with berets!) who led a motley band of boys and disciplined them in godly values and deep relationships that endure to this day. I think of a multitude of youth leaders (Trevor and Lois, John and Val) who shared their homes and their food and their unconditional acceptance of me and my friends every week. I think of Roger Martin, who gave me my first ministry as part of his team in Southend and taught me to have faith in the power of the Gospel.

You will have people in your past too – whom I will never know or recognise. These people testify to the fact that Christ is in all and over all, and dwells most importantly in the ordinary everyday circumstances and challenges of life, not just in the big issues, the great movements of the church and the notable names of the canonised and the revered. Most of life is ordinary, and among the 7 billion people alive today, there lives a ‘great cloud’ of ordinary but magnificent saints, overcoming difficulties, loving generously and making the world a better place.

What kind of saint could you be today?

Remembering the Saints
grace and guilt
Godstone Baptist Church