There was once a boy who was sitting in a church when a priest noticed that he had been sitting there for some time. The priest went over to talk to him to see what he was up too. He sat down and asked, “What are you doing?” The boy replied I am looking at the windows. The church was much like ours with many beautiful ornate stained glass windows. After a few more minutes of silence the priest tried to strike up more conversation by asking what it was about the windows that were so appealing. The boy thought about this a moment and replied, well I like the many different rays of color made by the sunlight shining in and the pictures of saints.
This of course intrigued the priest further who asked, “Do you know what a saint is?” The boy looked up at the priest and replied with a beaming smile, “Yes, they are people who let the light shine in.”
Saints are people who let the light shine in. We may realize, right off the bat, because we live in 2016 and heard more than one sermon on All Saints that in fact, when we think of it we are All the Saints of God, both living now and those who have gone before us.
It is perhaps a lot easier to think of those people in our lives who have been an example of a saint to us in our lives. People, friends, or even complete strangers who have been there for us, to shine a light into our world when we needed it the most. I wonder how you felt when someone was a saint in your life.
For me, I know that I often feel very blessed and thankful for that person and what they have done. Sometimes our attempts to say thank you feel inadequate somehow. But we know that we never have nor will forget those moments.
I wonder how you have been a saint to others, letting light shine through you. This can be hard because we are not used to holding up our strengths as it may be taken the wrong way. This isn’t about trying to be egotistical or bragging. Each of us has the potential to be a saint to another. We may, without even realizing it, been exactly the right light needed for someone at a particular time. I wonder what impact you made on these people in how you influenced their lives in that moment. How does it feel to know that you have made a positive influence in someone else’s life?
I know I feel immensely grateful that I was in a position to be present to the other when they needed me to be. I feel proud and am filled with joy to know that I made a difference to someone at some time. More importantly it makes me feel eager to look for other opportunities, perhaps pay closer attention to people in my life, even the stranger on the street who I may never see again.
As we know going about saintly work in the world is more than an individual affair. When we, the Holy People of God, the Church in the world today collectively act as saints in the world, I wonder what that has looked like. When we as the Church are a way for light to shine through to those people and places that yearn for light, God’s light, I wonder what kind of difference that can make. We may have already experienced this power in our lives. This may be what has made you choose St. Martin’s to be your Spiritual home or what has made you come to church today. We already know that when we act together to let God’s light shine through us it is enough to change governments, provide shelter, feed the hungry, visit the lonely and restore hope. This is our work, the work of the Church. This is hard, complicated and often at times frustrating work. But it is work that is so desperately needed in the world for God’s light to shine through into the lives of all.
The boy sitting in a church, looking at the light shining through the stained glass windows got it exactly right. The point of today is not only to celebrate the saints of the past. Today is not only to honor the famous and notable people in the world who are our present day examples of saints. Today, All Saints Day is about all of us collectively working as the Church to create and hold up those opportunities and moments to allow God’s light to shine through into the world, change lives and the course of history one moment at a time. We are called to continue to be the Church in the world today and I believe as I have said before, God is not finished with us yet.