Celebrating the saints

Illustration by maple. Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Illustration by maple. Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I had forgotten until just now — tonight is Halloween. As a family, we stopped participating long ago, when our kids were small; now we just put a sign up on the door wishing families a safe evening (leaving out the plea to not bash in our mailbox). Many churches, of course, offer their own alternative “harvest festivals” and the like, so kids don’t have to feel left out and parents don’t have to worry about what’s in the goodies the kids bring home.

But here’s a thought. All Saints Day falls on Sunday this year. Instead of practicing alternative ways to dress up and get candy, how about a day to reflect, even briefly, on the meaning of sainthood?

No, I’m not suggesting the observance of any particular church tradition associated with the day, such as praying for the dead. I’m talking about recognizing what the Bible means when it says that those who are in Christ are in fact “saints,” or perhaps more literally, “holy ones.”

It’s one thing to dress up as Batman or Wonder Woman, a princess or pirate, or even Donald Trump or a yellow Minion. It can all be done in fun. But how much do we take for granted the call and privilege of clothing ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 13:14)?

The writer to the Hebrews tells the stories of great men and women of faith (chapter 11), referring to them as a “cloud of witnesses” (12:1). Their stories are meant to inspire us to persevere in the pursuit of holiness. We might think of more contemporary examples, and it’s worth some time reflecting on how the lives of these modern-day saints call us to greater faithfulness.

But Hebrews then calls us to fix our gaze not on Noah or Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, or Moses, but on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (12:2).

If you are a follower of Christ, you are one of God’s holy ones. You may not feel like it. You may not believe it possible that anyone could consider you a saint. But that’s who you are and who you are becoming in Christ: a sign to the world of what God is like.

Celebrate that.