Summary: As Christians we are saints, sinners, sons of God and set apart. What a mix
All Saints Day 2006
Story: In a small country village in Sicily, there were two brothers, renown members of the local Mafia.
They were mean, bad and very rich.
No one had a good word to say about them.
Indeed, everyone seemed to have a story about how they had either been cheated or maligned by the brothers.
One day, one of the brothers, Luigi died.
The surviving brother, Jo - with a rare touch of conscience felt that something nice should be said about his brother Luigi at the funeral.
So he went to the local vicar and said:
I know that folk in the village hate us, and they dont know the half of what we have been up to. However, I want you to say something nice about Luigi at his funeral.
I want you to say that Luigi was a saint when you preach.
If you will agree to do that, Ill show my gratitude by giving £100,000 towards the repair of the church.
And here’s the cheque for the amount.
If you dont, you know my reputation.
The vicar thought about it fleetingly agreed and took the cheque.
A week later, the whole village turned out for the funeral and everyone wondered what the vicar would say.
After the opening hymns had been sung and the readings had been read, the vicar climbed up into the pulpit and delivered his sermon.
Eyeing the brother, sitting in the front row, the vicar said how evil the pair of them had been.
He went on to say how Luigi had cheated, not only in business but on his wife, how he had lied and how had had no concern for anyone but himself.
In fact he went on to say what a downright scoundrel Luigi had been.
After ten minutes of preaching in this vein, the vicar, being the man of integrity, ended his sermon with these words:
"But compared to his brother, Jo - Luigi was a saint
But seriously what is a saint?
It’s All Saints day today – and of course it is our Patronal Service today
Our reading from Hebrews 12 talks about where we belong - to the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem.
And the new Jerusalem is a place that is populated with saints - the Bride of Christ! (cf Rev 21)
I asked last year if we had any saints and we decided that Elsie was a saint
So if Elsie is a saint – what do we mean by the term?
The term saint is used in the NT section of the Bible and is the word hagios meaning: sacred , pure or blameless.
St Paul writing to the Church at Philippi addresses them as “the saints at Philippi” (Phil 1:1) or to “the saints at Epehsus” (Eph 1:1)
The Bible’s use of the term Saint means someone who has committed his life to follow Jesus Christ.
As one Commentator put it:
“They became saints by means of the Holy Spirit, which can only come from God. God therefore chooses His saints, and gives them of His Holy Spirit to make it possible”
So cheer up – being a saint has nothing to do with our goodness – rather it has all to do with Jesus’ mercy.
There are three things that I think we should remember when we consider ourselves as saints
1. We are sinners yet saints
2. Our Standing is as Sons of God
3. And we are “Set apart”
Sinners, Sons of God and Set Apart
1. We are still sinners
Even the apostle Paul recognised this when he said;
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Rom 7:19)
In other words, a saint is a sinner!
2. Our Standing as Sons of God
Being a Christian is not about being a good person.
Often people tell me at funerals that the deceased was a “Good Christian” though he didn’t believe in God or go to Church
But being a Christian has nothing to do with our goodness. It has all to do with our Standing in God’s sight as his children
And this is made possible, only through our relationship with Jesus – as He Himself said
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life no one comes to the Father except through me (Jn 14:6)
3. We are set apart
This is the part of being a saint that we can be involved in.
Christ calls us to follow him – to be committed to him, to spend time with him.
In fact to do his will in our lives
No one is too old. Moses was eighty when his life’s work began