Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Saints Day

Tomorrow, if God wills, I will be wishing at least one person (probably many more than that) a Happy All Saints Day.

Everyone is so hyped up for Halloween that they've forgotten why it exists in the first place; it was chosen BECAUSE it was the day before All Saints Day. They used to call October 31 "All Hallow's Eve" because November 1 was the day set out to pray (hence the word "hallows" - alluding to the frequent repetition of the Lord's model prayer, " ... hallowed be Thy name") for the saints. 

FOR the saints. Not TO them. (small bunny trail there - very small. Or is it?)

I'm sure some would say, "Why would you pray for a bunch of dead people? Statues holding up the pillars of some church building somewhere?"

That's probably one big reason why All Saints Day never caught on; it got warped because the meaning of the word "saint" got warped. 

Most people think of the halo
when they think of a saint.
Picture source Patron Saints Index
The word translated "saint" in the New Testament didn't refer to someone who was so good that he or she had achieved sainthood or was beatified by the rulers. No, "saint" in the Greek means "called-out one" - and it was how every New Testament writer spoke of the people who believed in Jesus as their only hope. In other words ... every born-again Christian is a saint. Every. Single. One. 

It doesn't matter what your theology is or isn't; it doesn't matter how good or bad you think you are. If you have trusted Jesus' once-for-all-time sacrifice as your only way to have a relationship with God, then you are a saint. Period.  Sainthood isn't for the dead. It's for the living.

And yes, that means that there are a whole passel of saints (including me) walking around out there, and it also means that a good many of us aren't acting very uh, saintly. That's okay. WELL, all right, in the strictest sense it would be preferable if we behaved ourselves - but out of love, not out of duty. The perfect image of the halo-infested person who has it all together and who dispenses wisdom and hope to the poor shmucks who can't get it right ... is somehow broken by this concept. However, saints - real saints the way the Bible talks about - know all too well that we cannot do anything on our own, and that left to our own devices, we WILL fail. It smudges the image. The beauty of the smudged saint image is that we know where to find help and hope ... and it isn't in us. It's in Jesus. Period.

And some of the people who are walking around out there who are also saints ... ARE acting "saintly" - so well, in fact, that they've got themselves convinced that they've got the market cornered, that they've "arrived" and that they're above reproach. The warning bells ring when I see this type (and especially when I begin to become this type), because they think they have the right to judge other people. These are the people everyone thinks of when they call someone "holier-than-thou:" arrogant, narrow people with nothing better to do than count the number of swear words in a movie, or make hateful placards to brandish outside an abortion clinic ... or something similar.

They've forgotten that without Jesus, none of us has a hope. Ever. Being a saint doesn't mean you've arrived. Being a saint means knowing that you can never arrive and that Jesus arrived for you; you spend the rest of your life in gratitude to Him, needing Him, depending on Him! And that is when it starts to get exciting, because that is when He can step in and allow us to participate in and cooperate with His great and miraculous dealings with the human race... which ALSO includes us.

If we realize and understand deep in our insides that we need Jesus, All Saints Day makes more sense in its original meaning - praying for all the saints. James 5:16 says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed." (KJV) I use the King James here to make a point (not about the right version to use). The King James version only used "ye" for the second person plural. That word has fallen out of usage; we only use "you" now - and it can be confusing. The original Greek in that portion of James' letter means that if I tell you my stuff and you tell me yours, we pray for each other, and you and I can BOTH be healed. Healed of what? "Your faults." Our failings, our inner shortcomings. When was the last time that ever happened?

Put that on a more corporate level, do that for every "called-out one," and ... can't you see how revival (coming to life again - which implies that revival is not for the unbeliever but for the believer!) - how revival can't help but happen? 

So - tomorrow when I say, "Happy All Saints Day" - you'll know what I mean.

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