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Second hand dress and halo for sale – any offers?

November 1, 2014

What is a saint? Well, if you walked round most English churches you would get the clear impression that a saint is a man or woman, wearing a dress with halo accessory. Now, I’ve tried being a saint but I just can’t manage it. I’ve looked at the pictures but I just can’t take the funny looks and ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ every time I try and go shopping in a brightly coloured dress. And the halo, well! You just can’t buy them anywhere, so I made one out of silver foil and a coat hanger. I was really proud of it but it just made people laugh and my wife Viv won’t let me leave the house with it any more.

So if a saint isn’t someone in a dress and halo, then what is a saint? I’ve tried looking at stained glass windows so perhaps I’ll do better looking to the Bible. I look to the Bible and read things like, “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” (RSV). That’s from the opening of Paul’s letter to the Romans. There are lots of other verses like this were I find ‘saint’ used to mean ‘one of God’s people’. So a saint is you and a saint is me.

That led me to wonder, ‘How can I tell if someone is a saint?’ Well I can’t. I don’t know for certain who is and who isn’t one of God’s people. But I do know what to look out for. I look to the Bible again and I find descriptions of what God’s people should be like. I read passages like 1 Corinthians 12, and I realise that a saint is likely to be be loving and forgiving. I read passages like Matthew 5.1-12 and I find a long list of character traits. I find that God’s people may be poor in spirit, sad and mourning, or meek. A saint may also hungry for what is right, but merciful and pure in heart. A saint my be a peacemaker but despite being blessed by God, a saint can expect to be persecuted for standing up for what is true and right and good.

I look at that list and I see a saint as an ordinary person who is likely to suffer like everyone else. So as a saint I am not going to be spared the loss and pain of mourning for the death of people close to me. I could be poor and persecuted. But more than anything a saint is a wonderfully noble figure: A warrior for good. Someone who stands up for justice with mercy, someone who cares about the poor, has, or seeks to have, pure motives; a persecuted peacemaker. I like that picture, it is noble and heroic but I’m not sure that it’s me.

I strive for this picture of a saint but sometimes I’m a coward and don’t speak up when I should. Then I turn to the Bible again and I read, “I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Romans 8.38-39 CEV. What a relief!

I am a saint after all. I may not be a good saint but that does not separate me from God. I am not a good saint but I am still a saint. So with new confidence I ditch the bright dress and home made halo; I turn to the Spirit and ask for strength and wisdom. I open myself to Jesus and let the Spirit make me more like him and I am amazed that he makes me more loving, and more forgiving. I find that with the Spirit acting in me, I am more likely to stand up for what is right before I have time to think about being brave or cowardly – sometimes the Spirit speaks out, my head is above the trench and I no longer have a choice.

I am a saint. Not a good saint, but perhaps an improving one. Oh and I have I have a bright dress and a slightly battered halo for sale – any offers?

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  1. Saints, zombies and Jedi Knights | KungFuPreacherMan

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