Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…
We Presbyterians don’t talk too much about saints. Even so, they are everywhere.
Rosa Parks was a saint. She refused to move to the back of the bus. Out of her action came the Montgomery bus boycott, from which came the Civil Rights Movement. “I never meant to start anything. I was just tired of being pushed around.”
She lived what she believed. She had seen enough injustice. She had read the histories of former slaves. She had heard the stories of her own parents, had watched others as they struggled. Now she simply did what she had to do, and she became a legend.
Maybe there is a future legend reading this; maybe not. But the saints of the Bible weren’t real saints, either. Moses was a coward, Abraham a liar, Rahab a prostitute, David an adulterer. Not a single one led a perfectly exemplary life. But that is not the point. We glean what we can, and we learn from their mistakes, too.
If you think we Presbyterians and other Protestants don’t believe in saints, just look at the Apostles’ creed: the communion of the saints. Every time we learn from another person of faith, we experience that communion. Every time we remember a life well lived in faith, we have that communion. Every time we gather together and check in with our friends, we experience communion of the saints. Yes, it’s in the passing of bread and cup, but that sacrament is lived out, or ought to be, in the imperfect lives of all the saints every week.
It’s a marathon, says the writer of Hebrews. It’s a long, sometimes difficult road, and we make it because of those who cheer us on.
We are the runners; we are the members of the crowd. Every child, every teen, every adult needs people to lift them with their cheers, to charge them up and enable them to continue the race, to tell them they can do it, and, when their legs are just too weary, to carry them along.
That is the communion of the saints. That is what enables us to run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Yes, Christ is at our side. But he is most often there in the person of one of the imperfect saints who accompanies us on the way.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2010