All Saints Day Text: “These are the one who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14
The Feast of All Saints goes back to ancient Rome. The Pantheon had been built in the year 27 BC to honor Caesar Augustus and the gods of the seven planets that were known at that time. By the seven century AD Rome had become fully Christian and the Pantheon had been taken over as a Christian church. When they dedicated the Pantheon as a Christian church they took all the bones of the early Christian martyrs out of the catacombs and placed them in the Pantheon. All Saints Day has been celebrated ever since.
What is a saint? That definition is given to us in the text. Saint literally means clean and the way we get clean is through the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus has washed us also. Saints are also known as those who go through great tribulation.
Over the years I have come up with a collection of sayings about saints.
1. The first one comes from a child. Someone once asked a young child what a saint was. She thought of the stained glass windows with pictures of the saints in her church and responded, “A saint is a person who lets light shine through.” That really says it best.
It also goes along with what Jesus says in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
2. Thomas Merton, leader of a group of monks, once said, “A saint preaches sermons by the way s/he walks and by the way s/he stands and by the way s/he picks things up and hold them in his or her hands.”
In other words, a saint is witnessing in everything he or she does. A saint does not say, “Oh, now I am in church, I better behave.” A saint is always thinking about how to honor God.
We cannot always do that which is why we need to keep in mind Gal. 2:20: “It is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me. This life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
3. Luther has a memorable passage about saints:
It pleases me greatly and is salutary for us to hear of the weaknesses of the saints, for these examples of weakness are more necessary for us and bring more consolation than the examples of their heroic and very great fortitude and other virtues.
Thus the fact that David killed Goliath…does not edify me much. For I cannot imitate such things, since they surpass my strength and all my thinking…But when examples of weakness, sins trepidation, and trials are set forth in the saints – as when David sobs, fears, and feels despair – these buoy me up in a wonderful manner and give great consolation. From this I conclude that there is no need for me to despair either. In their fears and struggles they sometimes act as if they had no promises or faith at all. Yet, by God’s grace they are finally preserved and sustained by the Word of God. Luther’s Works, 5:254.
Being washed by the blood of Jesus saints let his light shine through us always.