Monday, October 23, 2006

All Saints' Day

Next Wednesday is “All Saints Day.” It comes around every November 1. Halloween gets all the press but in the liturgical calendar it is totally eclipsed by a day set aside to remember saints; holy people, extraordinary people. All the regular saints are mentioned; Augustine, Aquinas, Peter, Paul. We even have a new one in Indiana. “All Saints’ Day” is for all them. Or is it?

What does is mean to be a Christian? This question has many answers. We believe certain doctrines. We go to church on certain days. We perform certain rituals. If we only pay attention to outward rituals there are a lot of Christians in the world. But what if it means more?

Does it mean that we are “marked” people? It meant this for the early Christians in the book of Acts. They were singled out for abuse and persecution. Does it mean we are “called” people? It meant this for Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. Does it mean we are crazy people? If we behave in odd ways, take odd directions and insist we are following God we can look nuts. Think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: burn us but we will not relent.

In The Plague, by Albert Camus, Tarrou has a conversation with Dr Rieux. He says that the only problem he is up against is how to be a “saint.” Rieux is incredulous. He points out that Tarrou is an atheist. Tarrou concedes this makes the point difficult. But it is the only concrete problem he is concerned with. “How can one be a saint?”

If we are Christians we do not have Tarrou’s problem but we share his calling. Being a Christian means we are “saints.” It does not mean we are perfect. It does not mean we are spiritually or morally superior. It does not mean we have supernatural abilities. It does not mean we are crazy. It simply means that we are committed to a way of living that shows the character of Christ. It means our behavior is guided and sustained by God. It means we are His people. In the New Testament the most common word for Christians is “saints.”

So this Wednesday is our day. We are called, we are set apart, and we are peculiar. We are odd. We may be crazy. We are saints.

A. I.

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