November 1st has long been a day for the Christian Church to remember (and give thanks for) the saints of God. But when I remember the saints it is not the usual cast of characters that most often comes to mind. David and Moses, Elijah and Jeremiah, the Apostles and Evangelists each have their own days – and rightfully so. We would each do well to take the time to know and give thanks for their stories as each of their festival days come up.
But when All Saints Day rolls around each year it is not these great saints of the faith that I remember and thank God for. For, in my mind, this day has always been one for the unsung saints. The sainted woman who though she had no children of her own was like a mother and grandmother to everyone in her congregation. The sainted man who loved and supported his son throughout his entire life … even when that son made bad decisions that caused a lot of grief and pain for his parents. The sainted wife and mother who raised her family in the faith, brooking no nonsense, but also holding back no part of herself and her love. The boy who loves his sisters, even though his friends think that’s stupid. The girl who wants to help her mother just because it is the right thing to do. The man who is willing to step up and help out where and when needed. The woman who has only encouraging and uplifting words for everyone she meets …
These are the saints of God, unsung by the world but appreciated by me and everyone who knows them. These are the people called by God and moved by faith in Christ to be who they are and to do what they do. They are each one of them special in the way that Christ gives them to be. And through those seemingly minor gifts of ordinary people, the work of the Church goes on, and faith is delivered to new generations. The Gospel is mightily proclaimed. And so on this day, I am happy to sing of all that they have done for me … and their Lord, by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
678 We Sing for All the Unsung Saints
We sing for all the unsung saints, That countless, nameless throng,
Who kept the faith and passed it on With hope steadfast and strong
Through all the daily griefs and joys No chronicles record,
Forgetful of their lack of fame, But mindful of their Lord.
Though uninscribed with date or place, With title, rank, or name,
As living stones their stories join To form a hallowed frame
Around the myst’ry in their midst: The Lamb once sacrificed,
The Love that wrested life from death, The wounded, risen Christ.
So we take heart from unknown saints Bereft of earthly fame,
Those faithful ones who have received A more enduring name:
For they reveal true blessing comes When we our pride efface
And offer back our lives to be The vessels of God’s grace.