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All Saints Sunday

All Saints Sunday: What Is A Saint?

 Isa 25:6-9, Rev 26:1-6a,  John 11:32-44

all saints sundayWelcome 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.

From time to time the modern 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 boasts a home-grown saint in Mother Mary McKillop!

Indeed we can look back on a long list of canonised historical figures and be encouraged in our personal faith walk by their example, assured that when our time comes, we will join with all the saints as new creations when death has given 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. Paul addressed the members of the different churches as saints many times in his letters (see Romans, Ephesians).

The prophet Isaiah [25:6-9] presents us with a vision of worldwide salvation — on Mount Zion God prepares a feast for all the saints – the peoples of the earth and has destroyed death, wiped every tear from all faces, and removed the disgrace of the people Israel.

John’s Revelation [26:1-6a] describes a vision of salvation where God lowers the new Jerusalem from the new heaven to the new earth, bringing  a new order in which the sea, sorrow, pain, and death are all no more. “Behold, I make all things new!”

We are modern day saints living so as to inspire others to live in holiness – not through our efforts but through what God has achieved in us.