“for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”Ephesians 4:12
This week – November 7, 2021 – “Derek & Rebekah go to church” landed at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church – hmpc.org – on Six Forks Road in Raleigh.
There was a good spirit in the place. We counted 19 children headed down for the Moment for Young Disciples. The choir was enthusiastic. Associate Pastor Debbie Kirk had a helpful message. And the special music (violin and piano) was most excellent.
Besides, we celebrated communion, and so felt particularly close with the saints at WFPC, First Brandon, and Trinity Pensacola – as well as our children in Miami and Bahrain.
A good story from Hudson:
But it was one particular moment that brought tears to my eyes and peace to my soul. Two pews ahead of us sat a grandfather with three little boys; they were probably six, four, and two. Two bounced off to children’s church, but the youngest stayed in the sanctuary.
He was good, alternating between quietly exploring up and down the pew and sitting in his grandfather’s lap. But then, as I looked at the back of his little head and the shape of his sandy brown hair, all I could think of was Mr. T. in Bahrain and how much I would love to be that grandfather, with my two-year-old in church. I wish I was the granddaddy with all four of my grandchildren bouncing around in one long family pew!
“Shall we gather at the river,” the choir sang, “where bright angel feet have trod?”
“Yes, we’ll gather at the river!” I whispered the refrain… “Gather with the saints at the river…”
Well, not so much the saints at the river, I thought, as maybe the grandkids on the pew, or the beach, or at the pool.
Being a Saint:
November 7 was Hudson Memorial’s “All Saints Sunday” worship service, designed to honor those who have gone on before us, and to celebrate the amazingly rich heritage we have as faithful witnesses to God’s love. We are – both as individual congregations and a denomination, continuing to write a saint-worthy history.
My encouraging word to all of us this morning is the image of the grandfather on that pew, juggling (with a deft hand) three little boys. He is doing the work of a saint. He is teaching his family about God’s love. He is contributing to the rich history we continue to celebrate.
You see we don’t have to meet the official criterion (as outlined by the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) of becoming “Venerable, then Blessed, and then Saint(ed).”
There are three steps to sainthood: a candidate becomes “Venerable,” then “Blessed” and then “Saint.” Venerable is the title given to a deceased person recognized formally by the pope as having lived a heroically virtuous life or offered their life. To be beatified and recognized as a Blessed, one miracle acquired through the candidate’s intercession is required in addition to recognition of heroic virtue or offering of life. Canonization requires a second miracle after beatification. The pope may waive these requirements. A miracle is not required prior to a martyr’s beatification, but one is required before canonization.Conference of Catholic Bishops
Our invitation – mine and yours too – comes directly from Jesus himself. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,” he said, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Or, in my less scholarly paraphrase – “Go do your saint thing.”
We have a rich tradition in that. Just look around you. – DEREK
“Shall we gather at the river, where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever flowing by the throne of God?”
“Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river,
Gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.”
“On the margin of the river, washing up its silver spray,
We will walk and worship ever, all the happy golden day.”