Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, and we will have a particularly festive marking of it at our Evensong commemorating the 175th anniversary of Church of the Holy Apostles tonight (Friday) at 7 pm. We will also remember All Saints’ Day, and its related day, All Souls’ (or the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed) this Sunday, November 3.
All these liturgical occasions invite us to think about Saints with a capital “S” and saints with a small “s.” From the earliest times after Jesus’ death and resurrection, communities of his followers remembered those among them whose lives as Christians were particularly exemplary, and who even suffered or died for their faith – the Saints. This remembering is paired with All Souls, or what we now call the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. This is when we remember all the faithful who have gone before, whether they were particularly heroic in their sanctity or not, and it has also come to be a day we remember our family and friends who have died. From the earliest days of the church, in fact, all followers were called saints, with a small “s”.
That means that although it is good to have particular days every year to remember particularly inspiring folks from our tradition, and from our own lives, every day might rightly be called “All saints Day” – because every day is a day when we can be intentional about living our lives as small “s” saints. We don’t have to be martyred for our faith, or perform fantastic miracles. We simply need to seek to follow Jesus, and, with God’s help, to live into the promises of our Baptismal covenant. As a reminder, we will renew that covenant on Sunday – and you can get a sneak peek at pp 304-305 of the Book of Common Prayer. We will particularly promise to be nurtured by the church’s teachings, fellowship, holy communion, and prayer; to resist evil and repent of sin; to proclaim in words and actions the Good News of the story of Christ; to seek and serve Christ in all people, loving all our neighbors and ourselves; and finally to strive for justice and peace and the dignity of every human being.
Being a saint might feel daunting until we remember that we have already been fulfilling at least some of those promises, especially when we worship together at Holy Apostles and when we feed people in various ways at the Soup Kitchen and beyond. And we can keep working on the rest. After all, the answer to whether we will make good on those baptismal vows is always, “I will, with God’s help.” Every one of us is already a saint – and with God’s help, may we continue to grow ever more into our sainthood!