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Oct 31, 2006
For all the Saints

Today we stop to remember "all the saints who from their labors rest." Such a tremendous cloud of witnesses. So many people who have given of their lives to help us in this journey we call "following Jesus". So many who have walked this way before and who have shown us the dangers and the joys of following Jesus.

If and when you sing this wonderful reformation song about the "saints" I hope you take time to unpack it a bit before you and your congregation mindlessly recite or say the words to the blaring of the organ and trumpets.

Are you a "saint"? I don't be canonized...Saint simply means "believer". Are you a believer, a follower. I didn't ask if you fell down in this journey. I didn't ask if you were perfect. I didn't even ask if you try really hard...simply, "do you believe in Jesus? Have you know his love? Felt his presence? Experiences your heart "strangely warmed"?

If not, know you aren't alone. Many in the church have no clue what I am talking about here. Many of the officials in denomination have no clue about this "warming of the heart". Many have sat in the church for over 50 years and still haven't got a clue...they are full of fear and hate and pain.

A week ago I was sharing with some "church people" about God's great love for us in Jesus. An older woman came up to me and said, "You make it sound like God accepts us unconditionally. You make it sound so nice and caring. It is not like that. God is strict, severe, ready to punish, demands perfection." I asked, "what if it is both? What if you can't do the later until you know the former? What if God's unconditional love poured out for us in Jesus is the door through which we all must pass and then once through that door we find the strength (from God, not ourselves) to live as God directs? And what if you do it backwards? I think you wind up bitter, fearful, disappointed, empty, mean." She looked at me as if for the first time she understood something, like a light had turned on. Then she said, "is that why we (in the church) are so mean? We got it backwards!

This woman would not have considered herself a "saint" before this conversation. Now having gone through that door of grace she understood that sainthood is not something we earn, it is who we are, once God has control of our lives.

Have a great All Saints Day!