Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone,
for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.
– Charles Wesley
As Protestants how do we understand the Apostles Creed when it talks about the communion of saints? We don’t have an official list of saints or a process to make new ones and John Wesley the founder of Methodism wasn’t too keen on the idea of saints especially the praying to and veneration of saints. Well I think that Paul was pretty clear in his epistle to Rome: “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints“. The saints are the believers. All who are a part of God’s church are also the saints of the church. The church is filled with everyday, ordinary saints like you and me.
As Charles Wesley noted in the quote above from his hymn “Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above,” #709 in the UMC hymnal the connection or fellowship of the saints is not limited to those saints alive today. In fact, through our union with Christ the saints have a fellowship with those who have died and now live with Christ. We the saints of God, though separated by death, are united in the communion of all of saints. We are united in our faith, united in our praise of Christ, and united as the bride of Christ. That is why on All Saints’ Day we remember those who have passed on before us and remind ourselves that thought they are not here we will all be united again one day. In the book of Hebrews this is taken one step farther as we are encouraged to run our race well because those saints of God who have finished their course are now cheering us on.
So here we are a communion of everyday saints. There is nothing really special about us or anything that truly unites us…except Christ. Which is exactly the point: being a saint is not about pointing people towards yourself as an example for others but it is about pointing people to Christ who was made all the difference in your life. When I look at the saints I know what sticks out to me is all the different ways that Christ shines through them. A colleague who takes time to write handwritten notes to clergy friends helps me to see Christ caring for even the least among us. A group of saints that gather faithfully to pray and intercede for the church and the world remind me of Christ often slipping away to pray for others. Those that go and help provide others with basic needs like food, shelter, and water remind me of Christ always caring for the physical as well as the spiritual. The communion of everyday saints helps me to recognize God working in my everyday life.