A Faith from the Margins to the Web Special Edition, in honor of All Saints Day (November 1)
O Almighty God, who have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those indescribable joys which you have prepared for those who truly love you: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This time of year, our faith communities often pause to reflect on those whose lives have gone before us: the souls that are the stories of legend with their kind deeds, compassionate hearts and selfless giving nature, grounded in a love for God and humanity. It can be daunting to compare ourselves with saints who seem super-human in our imagination.
If that is our only understanding of “saint” we’ve significantly limited our vision. Jesus, in fact, begins his Sermon on the Mount by pronouncing blessing on the least likely, the most often overlooked. Jesus speaks to our human hearts across all the boundaries of life which we have allowed to divide us.
Last week, I had the opportunity to be present with some of the saints walking this world, as we remembered those whose lives had touched our own. We gathered before Red Door lunch on Friday for a Service of Remembrance, Hope and Healing in honor of the feast of All Saints and All Souls. We prayed together, lit candles, and shared tears as well as memories of those whose lives have touched our own.
I have held these remembrances in my hand and in my heart, lighting candles that wafted memories, hopes, and inspirations into eternity:
–the martyr of those living unhoused, whose protest outside the emergency cold weather shelter for dignified and improved conditions led to his death from exposure.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
–the saint of our Red Door ministry who gave us his service, his heart, and his knowledge of life on the streets so that we could respond in ways that kept dignity and love in the center.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
–the cherished daughter, gone too soon but leaving a legacy of caring for those whose lives she noticed as she walked through the streets of campus, leaving items and notes of caring. This saint inspired her mother to begin a non-profit to do the same.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
–the mother, who taught her son to pray.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
–the child he never was able to know, but mourns every day.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
–the friend no longer on this earth that turned an empty tent camp into a community of caring.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Sometimes, I had to hold shaky hands to light the candles. Sometimes, my eyes were filled with tears. Sometimes, we just paused to cry or to feel God moving in our midst.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
We’re just a few weeks away from the turning of the liturgical calendar which will inaugurate this Faith from the Margins to the Web project on a weekly basis. This week, those of us coming together to be a part of this project will celebrate All Saints Day by gathering to begin the bible studies that will give life to these Gospel lessons and bring us into relationship with each other, through Christ who is always in our midst. So, as you are celebrating the saints, remember us in your prayers. Remember the saints who have gone before, those who are here now, those who will walk this earth when we no longer can. We are one community, surrounded by this Great Cloud of Witnesses.
Who are the saints in your life? Spread the good news, and share your own story of the saints in your life in the comments below: