Our Patronal Feast Day
This is one of my favorite questions: "The Episcopal Church has saints?" Well...yes, but not quite in the way you may imagine. The Roman Catholic Church is the most famous for their canonization and adoration of saints. The Episcopal Church believes in the ministry of all baptized persons. We do not go through any formal processes of investigating the holiness of one individual over another. Rather, we believe that we are all holy because we are made in God's image. The stories we choose to tell with our lives impact how others may experience God through us.
Our resource for celebrating the saints is a liturgical supplement entitled,Holy Men and Holy Women, that was updated in 2010 after a call from General Convention to be more inclusive as to whom we turn to for inspiration. It is large, very, very large! By way of explanation from the liturgical commission, "In these saints we encounter not models of absolute perfection but men and women whose lives, with all their diversity of gifts and graces, were reshaped by God's redemptive activity." May we take heart as we realize that, in spite of their failings and ours, we are all alike redeemed sinners called to be saints, those in whom the risen Christ's words to St. Paul come to fulfillment: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)."
Many churches are still named after some of the Biblical saints, as are we. This tradition is meant to inspire all who come into contact with us. We must also make sure the story doesn't end with a dead saint! The most creative, faithful response to this call that I know of comes out St. Gregory of Nyssa, Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Above their altar, the sanctuary boasts a mural of saints whom they have deemed reflect the holiness of God from all corners of the world. Alongside Biblical characters, you'll find depictions of 90 larger than life saints, including Anne Frank, Cesar Chavez, Desmond Tutu, and Ella Fitzgerald. I wonder whom we would choose as saints that inspire us to live more faithfully.
This Sunday, we will celebrate the story of our parish community, both past and present! We'll kick off our stewardship season, and celebrate all that God is up to in our midst. The story of St. Michael's in Arlington matters not just because of our patron saint, but because each of you continues to tell the story of God's love through your own lives.