For All the Saints

For All the Saints— 27 OCT

We will be using that great passage from Hebrews 11 this Sunday that reminds us that we are not alone in this journey of faith.  In addition to those we worship with today, we are surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses, both living and dead, who have paved the way in our faith, and who attest with us to God’s faithfulness, even in the face of trying, dry times in our spiritual journey.

“All the Saints” are not just those super-heroes of the faith as are those talked about in Hebrews 11, but ordinary people who have helped us grow in our faith, and helped us know the real presence of God along the way.  Often they are family—spouses, parents, children or others spiritual beacons in each of our clans.  Other times they are our “spiritual battle buddies” or mentors—those who have been there with us through the most trying of times.  Sometimes they are pastors or other church leaders who planted seeds, or nurtured them along the way.

One of my earliest church memories is of my Sunday School teacher when I was in third or fourth grade, Ms. Helen Redding.  She was a spiritual giant in a tiny, wounded body.  I never saw her without crutches, and don’t remember any of the lessons, but remember her as the angel of God’s grace, helping me fall in love with Jesus and the Bible.  I’ve mentioned before my fifth grade best friend, David, and the powerful role he had in my life through very difficult times.

Other powerful angels from years past in my life were Tom Farmer, Bob Bushong, Tom McClosky, Waite Willis, Scott Wojohn, Bill Barnes, Rob Achley,  Caryl and Bert Kelley, Len Sweet, Jim Nelson, Brent Grafton, Janet Neighbors and others.  Some of those I have had long deeper relationships with, others may not even know how much they have shaped me, some I’ve even been able to tell in more recent years what they’ve meant to me.

What saints have helped shape your life, and helped deepen your relationship with God?  And for whom have you been such an angel, building them up in the faith along your journey?  We’ll never know how we’ve touched many in our lives, but when we’re intentional about building others up, at least we can know when we’ve had some impact.

I think of one of the guys who has impacted me without even realizing it.  I called this gas station attendant “Mr. Smiley” for a long time before I came to know his name, because he always greeted me and many others with a big smile, just when getting gas.  I don’t know of his faith journey, but I know how much his smiles have meant to me along the way even from “JUST a gas station attendant.”

Take this time to thank God for those Saints who have helped shape your soul, and pray for God’s guidance and discernment for how you can be that kind of angel for others, as that’s a big part of why God put us on this world to begin with!

Keep being a blessing-

Rev. Jim

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