Outside of the football team or it's fans, I've never heard someone make the proclamation, "I am a saint." Even for the most conceited people on the planet, the saint identity is something that is hallowed ground--something reserved for people who are really dead or really good in our eyes. Saints are often people who accomplish deeds for the good of the world that seem so far out of our own comfort zones or realm of possibility that they are given a name that is officially given looking at an entire body of work by people wearing large, shimmery and pointy hats. Saint is a title that drifts on the continuum to a distant form of other. Not me. Not how I act. Not something I could do.
Saints are sent people. They trust in what God can do, and not necessarily in their own abilities. They may believe in what God is given them--but a saint is someone who can't separate their gifts and talents from God. Because saints are sent people, we receive our trust in God in Christ through our relationship with other saints. Their example makes a difference.
My father quit his job and sacrificed his earning power so that my brothers and I could have a better family life where we knew our parents. That act seemed so far away from me when I was young, even as a young adult--there was no way I thought I could ever do anything like that. But it mattered. A few years ago, my wife and I decided that it would be easier for me to stay home with our two daughters because as an interim pastor, when the time was right, I could transition into a ministry position easier than she could. My girls needed a little more stability in their lives, and for 2 years, I was able to give that to them. It wasn't that much of a leap for me, my Mother and Father as saints made by Christ's claim on their lives gave me an example of what it meant to be a saint. They were shown what it means to trust God in the life of a saint because they were touched by saints in their lives: friends who invited them to church, a congregation who lifted us up when we were down.
The stories being shared about ministry at First Lutheran Community Church are stories of saints. I don't imagine that one of these people sharing their story would call themselves a saint. But their stories reveal as trust in God in the way that they live and act in their life. Recognizing and acting on the presence of God is not their own doing--it is the power of the Holy Spirit that acts through each of us and makes us a saint. Through Christ's claim on our lives and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to live as saints in the world, regardless of whether we would make that claim ourselves. The saints of God have been unleashed in this congregation and the community.
Unleashing the saints.