Saints, Stepping Stones, and Enthusiasm

Today was a special Sunday at Faith UMC. Today we celebrated All Saint’s Day. Yes, we know that All Saint’s Day is typically celebrated the first Sunday in November, but when you think about it should recognizing and celebrating the saints of our church really only be designated to one Sunday a year?

When I first became aware of the tradition of All Saint’s Day, I pictured a saint as someone who was perfect; a person of exceptional, almost unattainable, holiness. As I grew in faith, I soon learned that my perceptions were inaccurate. A saint is simply someone who loves and serves God.

Anyone who loves and serves God is a saint!

As one walked into worship this morning, it was obvious from the arrangement of the worship space that something special was happening today. Fabric and rocks were used to create the image of a river flowing from the Baptismal font. Imagine for a moment a real river, a very wide river that you have to cross. Think about some of the ways you might be able to get across a river. During the children’s message, some of our children suggested that a bridge would make it possible to cross a river. We didn’t have a bridge in our worship space this morning, but along with our fabric river we did have rocks. And one way to cross a river is to jump from stone to stone across the water. I remember trying to cross a creek at a park near my grandmothers when I was a little girl. It was a little scary because I feared I might slip on a rock and fall into the water. But I always felt more confident when I stepped on a stone that wasn’t wobbly and felt it would really support me as I crossed the water.

If you think about it, life can be like a river that we have to cross. There are people in our lives who are like stepping stones that help us go through life. They help us get from one place to another. They help us move forward in our faith journey. And just like good stepping stones, we can count on these people to help us and support us. This is what All Saints’ Day is about. It is about remembering those people who have lived before us, those who have made the journey across the river of life and now pave the way for us to follow. It is about remembering those who have become for us like stepping stones in the water that help us get from one place in our lives to another.

All Saint’s Day is a day to honor those who serve God. We are all called to serve God. And even though we might all serve God in different ways, we are all called to serve with enthusiasm! Serving God with enthusiasm means our serving is a reflection of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Serving with enthusiasm means to do so happily, energetically, and with dedication and commitment.

The first Christians wrote letters to encourage one another in their service to God. Listen to what Paul said in a letter to the church in the book of Romans:

Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic – be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!  Romans 12:11

Paul wanted the early Christians to be enthusiastic as they shared the Good News about Jesus. God wants us to be enthusiastic too! We learn to serve God with enthusiasm from those people in our lives who have been like stepping stones that help us grow in our faith and cross the river of life. Saints are people who work hard for the church and love God so much that they allow God’s light and his love to shine through them. They make life more beautiful and help us to grow closer to God.

All Saint’s Day is a day to remember ways that people we know have been enthusiastic saints at our church and in our lives.

Who has been a stepping stone in your life?
Who are the people that have helped you move forward in your faith journey?
Who are the people who have mentored you, encouraged you, and supported you?
Who are the people who have inspired you?
Who do you know that serves God with enthusiasm; on fire in the Spirit as they serve the Lord?

Take some time this week to give thanks for the people that God has placed in your life to be stepping stones for you in your life and on your faith journey.  Write a letter of encouragement, send a text or email, or call them and offer some words of encouragement as they continue to serve the Lord. If that someone you would like to thank has already made that ultimate journey to be with Jesus, then share their story with someone else. Tell others how they have inspired you and made a difference for Jesus in the world.

 Dear God, 
Today we give thanks for the saints of our church. Thank you for the people you have placed in our lives that are like stepping stones helping us to grow on our faith journey. We are thankful that we have learned about your love and grace from them. We want to show our love for you too so please help us to serve you with enthusiasm in everything we do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 Resources:  Dare to Dive In! Strategies and Resources for Involving Your Whole Church in Worship by Heather Kirk-Davidoff and Nancy Wood-Lyczak. 2006, Abingdon Press.                                                                                     Around the Year in Children’s Church by Lisa Flinn and Barbar Younger. 2012, Abingdon Press.

About faithumchurch

Spiritual Formation Director at Faith United Methodist Church in North Canton, Ohio
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