In a lecture on the communion of saints, the Baptist preacher Carlyle Marney said that each of us is like a house. In the house is a living room where we entertain and a dark basement where we store the trash. And, Marney said, each house has a balcony with all the people who have influenced and inspired us. They are our saints. The way to celebrate All Saints Day, he said, is to step out onto the front lawn and salute the people on your balcony.

One of my balcony people died recently. Ernest T. Campbell was a Presbyterian pastor in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Michigan prior to becoming senior minister at Riverside Church in New York. I first encountered Ernie when I happened on a small booklet of sermons he had preached on the National Radio Pulpit and on The Protestant Hour. I was blown away. His sermons were based on strong biblical exegesis, and they were witty, contemporary, theologically sophisticated but accessible. I never preached a sermon of his, but I learned a lot by observing how he did it.

While in New York to see the sights with my family in 1969 I took them to Riverside Church. It was a summer Sunday and Campbell was in the pulpit. I was not disappointed. I don't remember much of the sermon, but I have never forgotten its compelling opening story. It seems that a major soup company had just been caught putting marbles in the vegetable soup shown in its television commercials. The marbles lifted the vegetables to the surface and made the soup look more substantial than it was. Campbell preached about authenticity. Ever since, when someone is being less than genuine or making dubious self-centered claims, I have remembered Ernie's image of marbles in the soup.