From Pastor’s Desk: November 2021
On the 1st day of November, the church worldwide celebrates what is called as All Saints Day. Even though it is high holy day in the Roman Catholic church, some Protestant denominations even after Reformation still solemnly remember this day. In the Methodist church, they see “it as a day of giving God earnest gratitude for the lives and deaths of saints.” Saints (at least in the Protestant tradition) do not necessarily mean men and women who have been canonized by the Roman Catholic church; saints are also people who see themselves set apart from the ways of the world. The apostle Paul in his epistles often referred to the ordinary people in the church as saints. In that sense, you and I are saints –those who have been set apart to live lives that are holy unto God. We are called to live in the world but not of the world. As someone stated, we are both sinners and saints at the same time. Sinners because of our fallenness and saints because we have been clothed by the righteous-ness of God –this is not our own making but by the amazing grace of God!
Hebrews 11 is often referred to as “Faith Hall of Fame.” These were ordinary people who did some extraordinary things with the power of God. They stood up for something even when their life was in jeopardy. The author of Hebrews in the very end of this chapter quotes a list of names and in it he includes Rahab, the only woman outside of the covenant to be mentioned. If you carefully read the names, you will see that they were ordinary people, yet you see God redeeming them in the midst of their weak and broken selves.
What do we make of the millions of people whose names have not been mentioned in that hall of fame? These folks, women and men are the unsung heroes of the faith. The unsung heroes can be your Sunday school teacher who introduced you to Christ and the ones who took the time to pray and prepare in order deepen your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It can be your parent who cared for you and witnessed to the faith by their exemplary lives. It can be a friend who stood with you in your moments of deep distress. And the list goes on.
With every All Saints Day we are reminded of a few things about the Christian faith: first, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and these are ordinary people, the unsung heroes of the faith. They are the cheerleaders who keep us encouraged when we face challenges in this life. They may not have been mentioned in the history books but their life of witness matters. Secondly, the Christian faith must be passed on to the next generation and even to those yet unborn. If we shrink from this responsibility, we stall the kingdom from moving further. So do your part and see the faith germinate and flourish in someone else.
In addition to All Saints Day, Thanksgiving remains so central to the month of November. Giving thanks to God is not something that we do instinctively especially when we are facing difficult moments in our life. Those difficult moments overshadow the need to give thanks for the many gifts that we so graciously receive from God. A friend of mine who wrote a blog recently talked about the difference between being grateful for and grateful to. While we are being grateful for the things that we have received from God, the focus seems to be on us. It is aninward focus. Our thankfulness must be “grateful to”, which means that we are outward focus and we are not the center of attraction but people whohave enriched our lives and ultimately God. It is Sir Isaac Newton who made this most famous statement: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”. There are many who have contributed to our success and we need to be grateful to each of them.
As you enter this month, remember the unsung heroes in your life, give thanks for each of them and most importantly pass on the faith that you have received from them.