The Core Sunday Gathering

July 17, 2011


Question: How many saints can we name?

        -Just keep going till we can’t name any more.

        -Question: What does “Saint” mean to you? What is a Saint?

        -Can you imagine being a saint yourself?. Saint Rob. Saint Jennifer. Saint Tyesha… Sounds funny, right?

-Here’s what it takes to be a saint in the Catholic Church, apparently:

  1. A local bishop investigates the candidate's life and writings for evidence of heroic virtue. The information uncovered by the bishop is sent to the Vatican.
  2. A panel of theologians and the cardinals of the Congregation for Cause of Saints evaluate the candidate's life.
  3. If the panel approves, the pope proclaims that the candidate is venerable, which means that the person is a role model of Catholic virtues.
  4. The next step toward sainthood is beatification, which allows a person to be honored by a particular group or region. In order to beatify a candidate, it must be shown that the person is responsible for a posthumous miracle. Martyrs -- those who died for their religious cause -- can be beatified without evidence of a miracle. On Oct. 20, 2003, Mother Teresa was beatified. She is now known as Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata
  5. In order for the candidate to be considered a saint, there must be proof of a second posthumous miracle. If there is, the person is canonized.

-Many people who are canonized become Patron Saints: overseers of some group of people, illness, profession, etc.

[SLIDES] Top 10 Unusual Patron Saints

-I’m guessing the further we get into this, the less each of us is feeling qualified for Sainthood (or interested in it.)

        -But over and over, the Bible uses the word to describe Christians. All Christians.

        -[SLIDE] We get stuck on the historical view of Sainthood, that it’s only for the few and the proud.

        -[SLIDE] But the Biblical view is different.

-The word “Saint” comes from “Kadesh” in Hebrew, and “Hagios” in Greek

        -And is usually translated “holy” or “sacred”, especially when it’s referring to God, or to holy things

                -like a Holiday, or the Temple

        -But when the word is used for a person, it’s traditionally translated “Saint”

        -In other words, “a holy person”

        -And red flags immediately go up for us, don’t they?

                -Raise your hand if you’re a holy person! Hands either stay down, or they go up slowly.

                -Some of us aren’t even eager to admit we’re Christians, much less “holy people”. It’s really distasteful.

                -Those red flags are even evident in Bible Translations

                -The KJV is not shy about calling Christians “Saints”, left and right.

                        -The NIV is a little more cautious about it

                        -But Today’s NIV wipes it out completely.

                        -Question: Why do you suppose that is?

-So let’s accept for a minute, for the sake of argument, that all Christians are Saints

        -Does that mean I’m a Saint even when I’m in the middle of sinning? Or when my faith is in a slump?

                -Where I haven’t really prayed for weeks or connected with God at all, and he seems very distant?

                -Am I still a Saint then? It doesn’t sound right.

        -One answer is that it’s more about orientation than location.

                -Back when we were “Sinners” (next week’s topic) we had our backs to God

                -We couldn’t bear to face him. In fact, we had no right to face him.

                -But then Jesus came and stood with us, and turned us around. He vouched for each of us,

                        -saying, “This one’s with me.”

                -Like a very exclusive club that you could never get into. It’s not about who you are, but “who you know”

                        -Because Jesus can get anybody in. And he did it for me.

        -I was a Sinner when I had my back to the Father, and now I’m facing him.

                -Sometimes I’m doing well, climbing that mountain with my eyes fixed on him. Sometimes I slip backward.

                -But I don’t turn around. A Saint, a Believer, a Christian doesn’t turn back around.

                -Jesus knows we’re tempted to, but he stays with us to keep our eyes on God.

                        -Just like Peter walking on the water.

        -But there’s another answer to what it means to be a Saint:

The word “Saint” is hardly ever found in singular form in Scripture. Especially in the NT… it’s always “Saints”

        -It always occurs in community.

        -In other words, you don’t have to worry about being a “Saint”, because there’s no such thing.

                -Any more than a professional football player in New Orleans could be a Saint by himself.

                -[SLIDE] Drew Brees can go wherever he wants in his jersey, and be a New Orleans Saint

                        -But it’s absolutely meaningless without the rest of the Saints.

                        -What is a quarterback without a halfback? What is a passer without a receiver?

                        -And how long would he last without an offensive line?

                        -You notice his helmet doesn’t say “SAINT” does it? It says “SAINTS”

                        -That’s how we’re identified in Scripture… always in the context of a community


-Assign Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-13  11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

        -Paul gets the football team concept here. There can’t be apostles without prophets.

                -Or prophets without evangelists, or evangelists without pastors or teachers, etc.

        -Because we’re building up WHAT? The BODY of Christ. Not the Body of Ryan, or his mind or soul or anything.

                -And the final goal is WHAT? The UNITY of the faith, and becoming, as a community, just like Jesus.

-Even then, we get a little shy to claim we’re in some sort of superior group.

        -It sounds cultish at worst, and egocentric at best. It’s not Christlike to brag anyway, is it?

        -And Paul would agree with you.

        -That’s why he said it so well in Galatians 6:14

        -Assign Scripture: Galatians 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

-Here’s the good news: All our Saintliness is “vested” in him. 

        -He keeps it all for us, and invites us into himself.

        -There is nothing about me that makes me “holier than thou.” But you can watch what Jesus is doing in me.

                -You don’t congratulate the patient when a heart transplant is successful, you seek out the surgeon.

        -We are a community full of heart-transplant success stories, and we don’t get any of the credit.

                -The very fact that we’re alive and gathered in this room is to the Glory of our Surgeon

                        -Jesus… our Great Physician, our Rescuer.

                        -And our very lives should make people want to meet him. If we’re really using the hearts he gave us.

                        -And we’re letting his Love course through our veins.