Monthly Newsletter » A Message from Our Pastor

A Message from Our Pastor

November 2021
 
Dear Red Hill Lutheran School Families,
 
God’s Word reminds us that… 
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12.1)
 
According to the ancient, Christian calendar, Monday, November 1st is All Saints Day. All Saints Day dates back to approximately 610 A.D. when the Pantheon in Greece, turned into a Christian Church, was dedicated to all saints. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer describes that this Christian holy-day (holiday) calls us to gratefully remember those who have died in the Christian faith and “the unity of Christians of all ages, countries, and races in Christ, and the perfection of that unity in heaven.” Every follower of Christ is a member of God’s family, a family that transcends time and space; a spiritual family that is current and ancient. All Saints Day is an annual reminder of this incredible truth.
Who is a saint? Every believer in Christ! In Ephesians 1.1, Saint Paul opens his letter to the church in Ephesus this way:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy.”  As the Ephesians text above illustrates, typically, this word is plural, i.e. “saints,” referring to the church.  The Bible says that, by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ’s finished work alone, God’s people are forgiven and reconciled to God. Incredibly, God’s people are also clothed in the righteousness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5.21). Consequently, saints are set apart (consecrated) to serve God now and in heaven.  
 
Saints are not perfect people; saints are people being made perfect through Jesus Christ. The theological term for this is sanctification. As disciples of Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the divine image within each one of us, corrupted by sin, is being restored to reflect the One whose divine image was never corrupted—Jesus!  One day, that perfection (sanctification) will be completed in heaven, where with the “communion of saints” we will surround the throne of God praising God (Revelation 20 and 21).
 
While all Christians are saints, All Saints Day is a time to specifically remember those who have died in faith, thanking God for their lives and witness. While the Bible doesn’t teach us to pray to the saints (Matthew 6.6), we are encouraged to remember the saints and to allow the memory of their faith to spur us on to deeper faithfulness and hope. Hebrews 11, sometimes referred to as the “Hall of Faith,” reminds us that God’s faithful saints persevered in the face of conflicts and hardships because of the faithfulness of God:    
 
“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight...They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11.32-34, 38-40).
 
One of the great hymns of the church, "For All the Saints" is traditionally sung in honor of All Saints Day.  It encourages believers to look across 2000 years of Christian history and think of the millions now enjoying rest and salvation in the presence of God.  It is also meant to provide encouragement to believers here and now to press on, looking forward to the glorious day when all things will be made new! It is this Christian hope that is reflected in the hymn, “For All the Saints...” 

“And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong. Alleluia, Alleluia!”
 
As we honor All Saints Day, take time to thank God for the saints in your life, especially those who are now with Jesus—parents, siblings, children, spouses and friends. Thank God that He has called you to be a saint.  If you are going through a difficult trial, consider the saints of the Bible and the saints in your own life that have left you an example of perseverance and faithfulness, and that one day, we will be together again! Finally, consider the awesome reality that one day you will be remembered for your faithfulness and perseverance.  
 
On Monday, November 1st, may we pause to remember that we are members of God’s family—past, present, and future—you are a saint!   
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1.9-14). 
 
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Seth