Who are the saints in your life? No, of course, they weren't perfect! But who were the people who taught you about what it means to be human, to love and be loved? Who taught you about God's love and Jesus' teachings about loving your neighbor?
One of the saints in my life is my grandmother, Dorothy Dale. As a little girl, I knew Dotty best as the no-nonsense grandmother who didn't get along great with my mom, her daughter.
It was only as I got older that I got to see different sides of my grandmother. The faithful woman who loved God and believed that church should be a place where we are inspired and empowered to love the least among us -- the factory line-worker, the farm hand, the immigrant, the fussy child, the single parent, the recent widower, the LGBTQ+ person who wasn't sure if they were truly welcome, the angsty teenager. Grandma Dotty believed that church should inspire and empower us to move over and make more room at the table -- it was God's table, after all, and not ours.
Grandma Dotty (and my Grandpa Al) were founding members of their home town's weekly peace vigil. They would remind all who cared to read their signs that we are called to peace, not war. That we are called to care for the elderly, the immigrant, and the unemployed. That we are called to put people in front of profits.
In addition to all of this, Grandma Dotty helped form an incredibly strong community around herself and others. She visited and called people in their homes, showed up to give people rides, always had room at the family Thanksgiving or Christmas table, and was an adoptive grandparent (and parent!) to many in her wider community. No-nonsense as she was, she was also generous and loving. She held a vision for her community and our world that looked a whole lot like God's beloved community. She inspired and still inspires me to be generous, to make room at my table AND God's, to find the left-out person and invite them in and to care for human and creaturely neighbors alike.
Who are your saints? This Sunday, we remember those saints of ours who have died over the last year. You'll hear my grandmother's name among them. As we hold the grief of loss and the gratitude of love, we also will be celebrating new members in our community -- folks who are choosing to make First Congregational Church of Loveland their faith home as we seek together to follow Christ.
Thank goodness that we do not make that journey alone!
Thank goodness that we walk beside companions -- saints of today -- and that we always have the saints of days gone by to look to for inspiration, hope and wisdom.
In gratitude and love,
Thanks to Greg Greaves for this great song to listen to as we remember our Saints: "Memories" by Maroon 5, Cover by One Voice Children's Choir