I have totally adorable kid Halloween photos to post sometime this week, but this Friday Five is interesting enough that I’m going to take a stab at it first. Pat brings us a “saints” version in honor of All Saints’ Day–officially yesterday, but celebrated by many of our churches day after tomorrow. In our Protestant traditions, of course, we think we’re all saints, but we still have an image of “sainthood.”
Thursday marked the feast of All Saints, observed by many throughout the Christian world. And many of us will observe this feast in our churches come Sunday. As a Catholic schoolgirl, I certainly had one very specific idea of what constituted a ‘saint.’ As a woman in her prime (ahem!) who also happens to be a Presbyterian minister… I have other thoughts!
How about you? Let’s talk today about saints, how we have understood them throughout our lives. Who inspires us? Who challenges us? Whose lives have stirred us to greater discipleship? Who just has the best story we’ve ever heard? Try to answer these questions in each of the following categories:
I might have different answers different days, but here’s what I’m thinking right now.
1. Saints of the Bible.
Saint Elizabeth: mother of John the Baptist. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas story. I love Elizabeth. It’s my daughter’s middle name not only because of Jane Austen.
2. Saints from Church History/ World History.
a) Saint Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
b) “Saint” Emily of Amherst: That’s Dickinson. Her poetry seeps into me. Her God resonates with me.
3. Saints from Our Own Lives.
“Saints” Ted and Bev Skiles: This is harder. People are people. We do have ideas of saints, though, and there is something about living for others that seems to suggest sainthood. I will highlight today two people who have given of themselves over and above. They’ve lived in Taiwan and taken care of children for nearly forty years. We met them first in Missouri when they were home on furlough. Their younger daughter was more or less my age (she’s 6 months and 1 day older and was in my brother’s class). We moved to Taiwan because of them, and in spite of a 6 hour train ride, spent a fair amount of time at the Home of God’s Love. They love and care for children who can’t be adopted, and care for and work out adoptions for infants who can be. For almost 40 years. (True story. I did a search for Home of God’s Love and found a bunch of blogs that mention them without finding their own website. I’m reading one of them (Stinky Tofu) and realize, I know this person In Real Life. We were in school together–he was in my brother’s class–and my mom is in touch with him. We’ve had lunch together within the last few years.)
4. Saints from Pop Culture
“Saint” Harry Potter: He’s pretty saintly. And kind of Christ-like in the best of the literary Christ Figure Traditions (which, in spite of my above assertion of selflessness, I think Christ-like-ness may be the true measure of “saintliness” in the some-people-are-more-saintly-than-others sense rather than the we’re-all-saints-in-spite-of-ourselves-and-because-of-Christ sense). ****Spoiler Alert**** Aside from just being a really good guy, Harry willingly gives up his life for the world and then comes back to life (and goes on to live a less Christ-figure-ish life with Ginny and their children. Yay!).
5. Saints Absolutely No One Else in the World Would Ever Call Saints.
I’m thinking of the unnamed brilliant women who lived within the strictures of society and raised their families and found socially acceptable ways to use their gifts, the women who founded Presbyterian Women and the other Church Women’s Organizations and that sort of thing. I’m also thinking of the brilliant women who couldn’t live within society and found other ways to use their gifts, often to their own detriment.
And now back to Advent Meditation writing…