Since August, I’ve had the fortune of being part of weekly worship planning meetings with Dr. Tim Bruster, Rev. Linda McDermott, Mister Mark Burrows, Robert Stovall, and others, where we go through what the 11:00 am Sanctuary service will look like. The meetings are intended to help us be imaginative about how the service can be engaging, inclusive, and impactful, and has been the inspiration behind most of the slightly weird things we’ve done this semester (i.e., bring a dog into the Sanctuary). In discussing All Saints’ Sunday this weekend, and Dr. Bruster’s intent to talk about the living saints all around us, and our call to claim our sainthood, we joked about calling the sermon “Saint Yourself.” They laughed it off because it was too silly and irreverent.
Too bad silly and irreverent is right up our alley in the Justin Building. Last week, Dr. Mike Marshall came and spoke to our middle school youth about this concept of being a living community of saints. We invited youth at the end to make cards with their saint name, and what they were the patron saint of. In the delightful way that middle school youth can be both children and young adults inside the turn of a single sentence, our youth named themselves things like “Patron Saint of Chick-fil-A” and “Patron Saint of Serving Others.”
We’ll finish off this theme of living sainthood this Sunday at Sunday School, where we’ll be talking about the last stanza of our youth ministry benediction, which mirrors the big church’s benediction, “go out to be God’s people in the world.” I talked about this series on the blog when I started it, and it will wrap up this Sunday (we do two weeks in classes, and then one week where we all do the same thing; it’s in those third weeks I have been doing this series).
As Dr. Mike Marshall introduced to our middle school youth last week, to be a saint just means to be one of God’s people. In fact, if you look up usage of the word “saint” in the Bible, most of them are in the epistles, as part of Paul and other authors’ address to their audience. Paul just calls the members of the early church saints in the same way we call each other friends or colleagues.
This Sunday, we’ll be taking that concept of claiming our own sainthood and weaving it into our church’s benediction to empower our youth to see themselves as God’s people, and try to point them toward where and how God is asking them to go out into the world.