When Saints and Heroes Gathered

I sat among saints and heroes. Few of them looked extraordinary, and none of them were famous.

If you knew them, though, you’d see what I saw.

I saw a man whose family has been riddled with tragedy lately, who has seen more than one family member taken by death. He smiled at me, gave me a hug, and offered words of encouragement. He told me it was a great day because he was on his feet, alive, able to worship. He reminded me that life is God’s gift and that death is bound to lose eventually.

I saw a young woman, a college student, who quietly placed her money in the offering plate. She closed her eyes and sang about God’s love, and I think she meant it. She reminded me that small gifts aren’t always small, because God’s economy is different from ours.

I saw parents with tired eyes who tried to keep their babies quiet, and I wanted to tell them how glad I was that they showed up at all. There’s something supernatural about getting there within fifteen minutes of the right time, about waking up early on the weekend and getting everybody dressed. They reminded me that Jesus loves each little one and beckons all of them to come inside.

I saw an older man who loves his wife dearly and can’t understand why she’s so sick. As he guided her to her seat, his eyes were filled with both love and pain. He was kind and tender and grateful to serve her for one more day. He reminded me of my own promise, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and he strengthened my resolve to keep it.

I saw men and women with their eyes on the floor, struggling with guilt because the weight of sin is heavy. They came looking for mercy, for forgiveness, for hope to keep fighting, and I pray they found Good News that morning. They reminded me that nobody is beyond the grace of Jesus, not even me.

Together we reached for God, imperfect, sinful, but together. We clung to the truth that each of us is a member of Christ’s body, and we need each other as surely as we’re needed.

Some days it’s easy to see our flaws and sins, to wonder if we’re doing anything right. It’s easy to criticize and to withdraw from one another.

It’s easy to listen and sing without noticing that we sit among saints and heroes. Saints in progress, and heroes with feet of clay, but saints and heroes all the same. My church is a special place, but yours might be too. Look around you. Linger after the service or show up early. Pay attention to what God has done and what God is doing.

His Spirit is present and active in His church, slowly shaping us into who we ought to be. We worship among saints and heroes, ordinary holy people, set apart for God’s own possession. We proclaim Him as we sing, as we preach, as we suffer, and as we serve.

We are nothing special. But then again, maybe we are.

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