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All Saints Sunday: What Is A Saint?



All Saints Sunday: What Is A Saint?  Dan 7:1-3, 17-18; Eph 1:11-23; Lk 6:20-31


Welcome to church this morning! Today we join many churches around the world observing All Saints Sunday – a time when we reflect on those who have inspired and encouraged us in our faith walk, and remember and honour those loved ones who have departed this life in recent times.


The tradition of honouring saints extends from the early church, though the meaning and definition of sainthood has changed over time.


Periodically, the Roman Catholic Church announces a new saint following the canonisation of someone now deceased, whose life was exemplary in some way in inspiring followers of Jesus. Even Australia now boasts a home-grown saint in St. Mary McKillop!


Indeed, we can look back on a long list of canonised historical figures and be encouraged by their example, assured that when our time comes, we will join with them and all the saints as new creations as death gives way to new life.


But what does Holy Scripture say about saints? The New Testament in particular addresses the notion of sainthood though always in plural and with reference to those who are living at the time.


The Apostle Paul addressed the members of the different churches as saints many times in his letters (see Romans, Ephesians). In this week’s Epistle Paul says:I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints’ [v15].


Our gospel [6:20-31] records Luke’s version of the Beatitudes – part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain – complete with warnings and woes as well as blessings.


We are blessed to be modern day saints seeking to live so as to inspire others to live holy lives – not through our efforts but through what God has achieved in us.




Ephesians 1:11-23 [NRSV]


11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. 15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.




Luke 6: 20-31 [NRSV] Blessings and Woes


20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24 ‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 ‘Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. ‘Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. 27 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.