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. (Hebrews 12:1 NRSV)
I love All Saints Day and everything that it stands for. I am not very enthusiastic about venerating particular saints, but it’s good to remember that the Church has her heroes and heroines just like any other section of society.
What I enjoy about All Saints tide is that it reminds us that we are not simply ploughing this furrow all on our own. We are, as the writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews declares, surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses.”
We will only hear of the name of a very small number of those who have gone before us and stood steadfast in their faith. Most will remain unknown to us.
But we know they are there, probably in their millions, like a cloud surrounding us. Now the thing about a cloud is that it’s hard to see the individual droplets of water, but put all those tiny droplets together and . . . !
The one danger in focussing the Saints is that we can end up looking wistfully backwards to some imaginary golden age. But the saints did not, and do not, do that.
The saints of old lived their lives in the rough and tumble, the danger even, of everyday life. They lived heavenly lives in the here and now, and their eyes were set firmly on the future.
The task of today’s saints (that’s just ordinary Christians, by the way) is to do the same. We are called to live our lives in the everyday world, looking to the future and with our hope firmly fixed on Christ our Saviour and Intercessor.