The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
— Ephesians 4:11-13
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
— I Corinthians 1:4-9
As a staff, we are reading together one of my all time favorite books about church life: Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness. In the reading for this week, we came across this: “The Leadership of the church has sinned against the Body of Christ by communicating to God’s people that they are not fit to serve [God].” Like many good ideas in books, the author’s declaration is stark and jarring. Our first reaction is to qualify and say, “well, not my church” or “that seems extreme.” Maybe it is more hyperbole than is necessary, but there is truth in what the author says.
It is comforting for the leadership of the church to be indispensable, and it is comforting to think only certain people need to do the work of God. So long as only certain people are required to take this business of faithfulness seriously and only some people are required to do holy things, the rest of the church can go about “regular” life. The thing is, that isn’t what the Bible says to us.
At some level, the celebration of All Saints Day is for us a reminder that all are called to be saints. That means that we really don’t “lack” the gifts and that we are all in this business of “building up the body of Christ.” So, on behalf of the whole Church through all the years, “I repent. I ask you to forgive me.” Understand that means that you will need to be about the work of Christ wherever you may be.
I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor,
and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green;
they were all of the saints of God,
and I mean, God helping, to be one too.
You call to us, O God, from the cries of the street. You speak to us in the pains of our neighbors. You reach to us from near and far. Open our eyes to see the ways that we can serve you, and make us to be instruments of your peace here and there and everywhere. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.