What’s a Saint? Who’s a Saint?

Preached at the Family Service on 6 November 2016 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Snohomish, Washington
All Saints Sunday, Year C

Today is a very special day.  Do you know what we’re celebrating today?
All Saints!

What’s a saint?

There are saints whose names we know – like St. John, and St. Matthew, and St. Mary and St. Elizabeth.  They are people who lived a long time ago, usually.  We remember them though because of how they lived their lives as followers of Jesus.  Some of them were Jesus’ disciples or friends or even his family.  Most of them did something that helped people or spread the message of Jesus to other people.

They did things like translating the Bible into English or going to other parts of the world to tell people about Jesus; people who had never had a chance to learn about him.

Some of the saints we remember did heroic things like risking their lives to care for sick people during an epidemic.  There are lots and lots of people that we remember and celebrate on their special days all year long.  We have a whole book full of them!

I think the one thing that is true of all of them is that they in some way helped other people know and follow Jesus.

You know what, though?  People have been following Jesus for more than two thousand years!  That’s a long time and a lot of people.  We could never list them all.  In fact we don’t even know their names.
And so, we have All Saints Day – to celebrate all the people who have been saints, even (and especially) the ones whom nobody remembers their names.  Now, what do you think?

Does someone have to die to be a saint?  No!
So, can you think of people you know who help you know and follow Jesus?  Who are they?

Here’s another question – What makes someone a saint?  In the Bible, when Paul writes letters to the churches, he calls the people saints.
Do you remember the words of the song we sang at the beginning of the service today?  “I sing a song of the saints of God… They loved the Lord (that’s Jesus) and his love made them strong. … They followed the right for Jesus’ sake, they love to do Jesus’ will.”

 

It sounds like it’s more about following Jesus.  Do you think that you have to be perfect?  Or extra “good” to be a saint?  Nope.  In fact, when Paul was writing to the churches, a lot of times it was because they were messing up and he was trying to help them straighten up, to get back on track.  And still he called them saints.

 

So how do you think you become a saint?

Well, the short answer is baptism.

Now, it’s not that baptism is the only way.  Some people faithfully follow Jesus but haven’t been baptized, and they’re still saints.

 

Do you know if you were baptized?

Do you remember it?

I remember mine because I was all grown up already.  But a lot of people are baptized when they’re babies or little kids and they don’t remember it.

 

Did you know that when you’re baptized you make promises to God about how you plan to live?  And if you don’t make them yourself (like if you’re too little), your parents and godparents make them for you.  They promise that you will keep those promises.

 

So, whether you can remember it or not, every so often, in the church, we think about those promises and we make them again.

 

And you know what?  That’s what we’re going to do.  Right now.

And if you haven’t been baptized, this is a chance to think about whether you want to be.  To think about whether these are promises you want to make to God.

 

The first thing we’ll do is bless some water.  Do you want to help me?