Dear Saints of Bethlehem,
I am writing to you on the Eve of All Saints Day and a few days before the election. I am writing to you in a month when we are called to give thanks and to name our gratitude. I am mindful of all of this, as I consider the place and hope of our Gospel life, in trying times. I can feel the strength of all that we hold as sacred and the open-hearted urgency of now.
All Saints Day is a day to remember the saints who have come before us; their faith and their joys, their triumphs and their humanity, and to remember the legacy they have laid in us. We are indeed surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. I remember my own father this All Saints Day. His highest calling was to use the gifts God had given him to heal whenever possible. He always said his faith was simple. I think a better descriptor would have been tireless. He never wearied of doing what was right. As people of faith, holding collectively all that we have been given, how shall we be the saints of God in our day?
All Saints Day is not purely to look back at legacy, but to consider our place as the living saints of the church in this day. Perfect saints — no. We are, as Luther named us, both saint and sinner. There is a well-known church in Denver called the “House for All Sinners and Saints”. That is who we are. Who then shall we be in this world today? A world weary of division, pandemic and pain. A world still full of grace, hope and joy. Today our preschool children paraded around our courtyard in their adorable Halloween costumes. It was, for me, a moment to remember the goodness laid in us all. The hope we all share in tomorrow.
There may be no simple answer to the complex matters of our day. But then again, there might be. We have no place to go, but to the roots of our faith. A Gospel that teaches us that love is above all things. That mercy and compassion are the incarnation of that love. That Christian hope is not a naive view of the world, but a grounded understanding that God is setting this world right and we are a part of that sacred work. To this, the saints have always been called.
The Greek Orthodox Church on Manchester has a sign board I always read. It changes week to week and it is always very creative. This week it says: Love is about being decent in indecent times. Perhaps that is the core of this Gospel work. We will love at all times. We will do so because we have been the recipients of God’s love. We will love because that is what the saints of God do.
God bless you, O saints of God. I give thanks to God for you every day. Together we will honor the saints that have come before us and lay grace on the road that is ahead.
My love to you all,