In the Lectionary

November 1, All Saints (Ephesians 1:11-23)

On All Saints’ Day I remember those who tried and failed and tried again.

The Ephesians text for All Saints’ Day makes mention of “love toward all the saints.” Depending on your tradition, saint could mean many things, everything from canonization to kith and kin to sacrilege, but Ephesians makes clear that there are a lot of them and that they’re worth considering.

The church where I serve has saints galore in stone and glass and paint. I think about them sometimes and preach about them when I’m bored of my own voice and stories. More often, though, I think about the saints of the recent past whose prayers, singing, and shuffling footsteps saturate the stones of the building—those hagioi, holy ones whose spirits are in the heavenly places all around us as we pray and work and worship each week. The longer I serve, the more of them I learn about.

Our most famous saint was the pastor who served in the early 20th century. Legends about him abound, like this one: that Marlon Brando went to the local elementary school and used to do playground impressions of the pastor’s peculiar walk. He’d pop his head out like a turkey and look up at the sky at a side angle, such that he could see the sky but never where he was going.