All the Saints of Saint Paul
Last Sunday, we marked All Saints’ Day, and what a day it was! I found myself physically feeling wrapped by the saints as I heard the different harmonies being sung, saw individuals light candles and bring pictures to the front tables, and especially as we gathered around the table. I was particularly struck during the children’s time by the confident response of one of our children when I asked, “Where do we see pictures of saints?” He confidently said, “in the pews!” He is most certainly right. In our baptism, each of us are named holy and set apart to do God’s work. Each of us is named a saint as we are baptized into the communion of saints. This brings to mind two thoughts regarding the holy work we have the privilege to do here together and I wanted to share them with you.
First, all the saints at St. Paul. As hard as we might try on Sunday mornings to connect with others, there are still faces and stories that I don’t know, and my guess with many new members, this might be the case for you too! In an effort to share these stories, we’ll be working on a new section that will appear periodically in the e-news called, “Humans of St. Paul.” This idea is inspired by one of my favorite photo blogs, Humans of New York which attempts to be an exhaustive catalogue of typical New York City’s inhabitants. The project has morphed over the years to include not only photographs but also quotes and stories of people that Brandon Stanton, the site’screator meets on the street. What I so appreciate about Stanton’s work is that he is focusing on humans whose stories are often untold. We often hear stories of famous saints at church but equally as worthy are stories of all the unknown saints whose lives bear witness to a God of startling grace and mercy. We all have stories that are worthy of being known, and it is especially important that we find spaces to do that at church.
Second, a specific group of saints at St. Paul, the confirmation students. We have seven thoughtful students who are spending the year thinking about what it means to be baptized into this sainthood. This year, our confirmation students took some time to create a covenant. We discussed what our promises would be for each other as we gather, eat, question, learn, and pray together. We thought of it in terms of three different areas: promises with each other, the community, and God. Pr. Goodman, Megan, and I were all impressed at the seriousness withwhich the students took on this task. While the students and teachers are the ones who have signed this covenant, we also invite you, as the congregation members to see how you might actively fit into those promisesby encouraging their faith formation! Don’t be afraid to ask them how their week is going, what they struggle or delight in at school or at church, and how you might best support them as they try and figure out where they fit in this community. Not only will you be blessed by their response, but you will also be giving witness to the promises of support you made when they were brought to the font.
Continually thankful for your saintly work,