Saintly Sinners

Maui SunsetSaintly sinners. That’s who we are: people who have missed the mark (sinners) and still find ourselves the object of God’s transforming love (saints).

My brother loved shocking his friends saying that he, the redneck reprobate, had a minister sister, and he could probably get them a great deal on marrying and burying. He jokingly used to remind me that he was pretty sure he was “going to the other place”, if he was going anywhere at all. Then I would remind him that Jesus, in fact, was all about the loser, so he was covered any way you looked it.

Never, as we chided each other back and forth over the years, did I imagine I would be doing his memorial service and remembering him as part of my personal All Saint’s Day practice.

I think it’s appropriate that we stop and remember those we’ve known and loved who have gone before us. We have Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day as national days of remembrance for those who have served in the Armed Forces. We have World AIDS Day and International Women’s Day and a host of other days set aside for awareness and remembrance of people and causes.

Even though our loved ones who have died are never far from our thoughts, there’s something sacred about pausing and observing and remembering. I haven’t served in a church for a number of years, but I have created my own personal ritual for All Saint’s Day. I carve out a short period of time in my day. I light a candle, select a special hymn (This year I’ve selected Jesus, Lover of My Soul, a hymn I picked for a three year-old, my very first funeral in 1980) and read aloud the names of everyone I know or who has been brought to my attention, like the gun deaths since Newtown, who have died this past year. Often I name others that I have been remembering. Simple and sacred.

I hope you’ll take a wee bit of time today to remember those saints from your life who have died, but still left you gifts from their hearts.

This is my favorite version of Charles Wesley’s hymn Jesus, Lover of My Soul by Ken Medema. I’m not fond of the video, but you don’t need to view it in order to enjoy the music. Blessings.


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