worship series – a Season of Saints. For eight weeks we will be highlighting saints of the church in worship and during Kingdom kids.
Some churches typically focus on saints more than Methodists have. The
Orthodox have prayer corners filled with icons of the saints in their homes, Catholic
churches are full of stained glass windows, and they remember one or more saints every
day of the year. In recent decades Methodists have been observing All Saint’s Day in
worship and everyone is aware of Saints Valentine, Patrick, Francis and Nicolas. But
the world of saints is mostly unfamiliar territory.
What are saints? Paul’s use of the term “saint” to describe all of God’s beloved
people shapes how Protestants think about saints. The word Paul uses also means
“holy.” Followers of Jesus Christ are made holy by God’s grace through the sacrament
of Baptism and through taking on spiritual disciplines and Christian virtues. Methodists
have always been interested in helping people live more holy lives through a process we
Over the years the Catholic Church has developed rules for a Christian to be
added to their official list of saints. Mother Teresa is going through this process right
now. Catholics have also developed the practice of asking the saints, who are considered
very close to God, to pray on their behalf.
During the Reformation, Protestants insisted that “every individual human
being has the opportunity to communicate with God, be forgiven of sin and live the
Christian life without the interposition of another person or institution. Thus, the
Catholic tradition of asking the saints to pray for something seems unnecessary to
Protestants.” Methodists number among the saints those Christians who have gone
before us who led inspiring lives.
Saints were not all “perfect” people. Religion columnist, Jonathan Merrit writes,
“Conduct even a cursory review of the saints and you’ll stumble over scores of misfits
and outcasts. They were not considered balanced or stable or completely sane by all in
their respective communities. Instead, this throng of oddballs was bold, countercultural,
and unashamed. Saints embody what it means to follow Jesus when we are tempted to
play it safe or go with the flow or opt for acceptability over conviction and commitment
As we consider the saints over the next four weeks we will lift up saints
common to the whole Christian church, and those who come from the Methodist
tradition, including our local congregation. As we work through different categories of
saints the worship committee invites you to share some saints that inspire you with the
rest of the congregation. At the end of the series, on October 30, we will have a
celebration of the saints. You will be invited to come to worship dressed as your
favorite saint, ready to talk about his or her life in Christ during coffee hour.
One of the hymns we sing on All Saints’ Day says, “They were all of them
saints of God, and I mean, God helping to be one too.” If you look at the life of each
person the church recognizes as a saint you will see that most of them did not think of
themselves as being extraordinary in any way. They were not trying to “show off” their
personal capacity to endure or even God’s power to give them endurance. Rather, they
were “showing up” as faithful people in challenging times. They generally understood
their actions as the simple obedience required at the moment. As we focus our attention
on such faithful disciples of Jesus Christ I pray that their example will inspire us to grow
in our faith and inspire our neighbors to join “that number when the Saints go marching
Themes for worship
9/ 11 1 Timothy 1:12-17 “Transformed by Grace”
Many saints led miserable, ungodly lives before their
conversion. From Saint Paul, to John Newton (the author of
Amazing Grace) Saints bear witness to the grace of the Lord
overflowing with faith and love, transforming their lives.
9/ 18 1 Timothy 2:1-7 “Practice Prayer” Spending time in
prayer before the throne of God’s grace is a common element of
all of the saints. They not only pray for their own salvation, but
for others because the know “God desires all people to be saved
and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
9/ 25 1 Timothy 3:1-13 “Model Virtue” This passage lists
some of the virtues that come from being a disciple of Jesus.
Paul advises that any who would be church leaders have
acquired such habits.
10/2 1 Timothy 3:14-4:5 “Have Mystical Encounters with
God” “Great indeed is the mystery of godliness” and
“everything created by God…is made holy by the word of God
and prayer.” Saints are taken up into the mystery of God, and
learn to see the Holy in every day.
10/16 1 Timothy 6:6-19 “Act on their Vision” The Saints
are often motivated by a vision of the Kingdom of heaven, just
within grasp. They are spurred on even when life gets hard by
the hope of the future God has planned for us. The vision of the
saints helps them to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith,
love, steadfastness and gentleness; fighting the good fight of
10/ 9 2 Timothy 2:8-15 “Break Boundaries” The world
has set up barriers and boundaries between people, giving
some privileges and holding others down. Many saints,
trusting that “the word of God is not bound” have questioned
the status quo, proclaiming the equality of the children of God,
even at risk of their own lives.
10/23 2 Timothy 4:1-8 “Go Out” Apostles are those “sent
out” and the Apostle Paul describes himself as being “poured
out” like an offering. Many saints could not be content to stay
at home. They went out into the world to share the good news
of the grace of Jesus Christ.
10/30 All Saint’s Celebration – Come to worship dressed as
your favorite Saint. Make a poster with pictures and a story or
two about your saint and be ready to share with others at