Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. … In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:1-2, 11-16)
When a child is baptized the pastor takes hold of the child, walks down the aisle and introduce to the congregation. Often the pastor would introduce the child as a new member in the household of God and a member of the church who needs to be nurtured, loved and cared for by the congregation. Sometimes the pastor would include that the child is “a little saint.”
In the Catholic Church a saint must meet certain requirements to be called a saint. In other words, the individual needs to be a religious icon or a celebrity such as Mother Teresa, or someone who is selfless and totally devoted to God. More importantly, the sainthood must be declared by the Pope. But in the New Testament, when Paul talked about the saints he often referred to all who are in Jesus Christ. He routinely called members of his churches, such as the church in Ephesus, “saints”, not because of any great thing or miracle they had done but because of their faith in Jesus Christ and love for all their fellow believers.
The Greek word for saint means “holy one.” By faith we are made holy, justified and sanctified… through our confession of Christ as our Lord and Savior, the repentance of our sins, and our faith in the work and promise of Christ. Wesley went beyond just the state of mind to a practical life to define a saint. For him, to be holy is to live a life of love for God and neighbors and a life in holiness of heart and deeds. Paul had a list of description for those who he called saints: (1) a saint sets his or her hope in Jesus Christ, (2) lives to praise God, (3) has heard the word of truth which is the Gospel, (4) believes in Jesus Christ, and (5) is marked by the seal (or fruit) of the Holy Spirit (v. 12-13).
Can you see yourself being a saint with the descriptions above? This coming Sunday is called “All Saints Sunday.” All means all… you and I are included, and our baptized children as well. We are all saints. For that reason let’s think how we can do good each day in time of difficulty or in time of joy for the glory of God, including attending worship online or in-person and being active in our services and ministry in our community and in the world. May God’s blessing and peace be with you and all that you do as a saint.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.