God uses flawed people to do divine things
His servants will worship him, they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. – Revelation 22:3-4
All Saints Day (November 1) is a day set aside in the Church’s year when we remember with praise and gratitude all those who have gone before us on the pilgrimage of faith.
The custom of remembering saints goes back to at least the second century. In the Church’s calendar, for instance, we remember St Matthias on February 24, St John the Baptist on June 24, St Peter and St Paul on June 29, St Thomas the Apostle on July 3, St Francis of Assisi on October 4, and so on.
But over the centuries, there came to be more saints than there were days in the year. The church also realized that there were many other people who lived saintly lives.
According to the Bible, a saint is a baptised member of the church, who is faithful to Christ. That's it. There's nothing in there about living a super-human life, or being mentioned in the Bible, or having a statue made in our likeness, or even having the ability to resist every temptation.
All Saints Day is a day when we remember all the saints and God’s ability to use flawed people to do divine things. We celebrate all on whom God has acted in baptism, sealing them, as Ephesians says, with the mark of the promised Holy Spirit.
We celebrate the fact that God creates faith in God’s people, and those people through ordinary acts of love and faithful service, bring the Kingdom of Heaven closer to Earth.
Tim Costello, in his recent book Faith, tells the story of Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame. “Eric Liddell cared for all the missionaries, foreigners and prostitutes alike, as well as all the children in the camp where he was interned by the Japanese when they invaded China in 1937… he suffered for his calling.
“Eric ended up dying after becoming ill in the camp. But he died strong in his faith and remaining a man of prayer, simplicity and purpose. He’d had the world at his feet as an Olympic champion but he chose to teach and serve the poor in China.”
Today let us remember all the deeply faithful and deeply flawed saints of God’s church through whom the glory of God has been revealed and is being revealed in the world today.