Rev Hilary Howarth and Pastor Chris Holmes
Hebrews 12:1-2: A huge cloud of witnesses is all around us. So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. And let us keep on running the race marked out for us. Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the one who started this journey of faith. And he is the one who completes the journey of faith. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Do you have a favourite superhero? Perhaps it is Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Aqua Man, Wonder Woman, Cat Woman or Storm. Perhaps you had a favourite superhero as a child, but have rather grown out of them now. Possibly you dreamed of being a superhero as a child – well I have good news for you – you are a superhero, though not in the Marvel Comic mould, for you are a “spiritual superhero”.
On Sunday many churches would have held an All Saints service to think about those people who have lived their Christian faith and gone to join the cloud of witnesses, described in Hebrews. These saints might have been the saints we see in stained glass windows and last week it was the Saints Day of Saint Jude, the patron saint of last resorts. But, for many of us, our “spiritual superhero’s” are the saints who have made an impact on our lives – parents, teachers, youth leaders, friends and hopefully a few ministers along the way. Have you ever thought about who your spiritual superhero, or heroes, might be?
Mine include my Mum; Mr Alston my head teacher at Longsight Primary School; Mr Soper my RE teacher at Turton; Auntie Barbara Lever who taught an unruly bunch of girls in Sunday School but each week turned up to teach us about Jesus. Her love and dedication to a group of girls, who didn’t (at the time) appreciate her sacrifice, has always stayed with me; the Youth Fellowship leaders at Harwood Methodist Church – Gill, Edna, Eric and Ian; and many, many more over the years.
When you picture a saint you may think of Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero or Maximillian Kolbe. They are certainly inspirational in the way they lived their faith day by day and it’s important to remember those people and learn from them. But often a saint is much closer to home and very much alive. All Saints isn’t only a time for looking back at the people of yesterday, it is a day for looking at the here and now. Because a Saint is someone today who loves Jesus and follows him in their daily life. So, dear reader – you are a saint!
I think of those who volunteer in any capacity in the church; those who love and care for their neighbours; those who preach in our pulpits week by week; everyone who gives time to listen to someone else, who make sacrifices of their time and energy to help someone in need – and do this because Jesus has made a calling upon their life. You might not think of yourself as a spiritual superhero, but you are!
As we celebrate All Saints it is important to say “thank you” to those saints dead or alive who have shaped and directed our lives. But it also makes us conscious of the influence we have on the lives of those around us. The “halo” may have slipped a bit, it may need a good polish every now and then, but what impact are we having on our family, friends, the people we meet day by day? We are challenged to learn from the example of our spiritual superhero’s because without even realising it, we all send out messages from the way we live and speak. We may never be heard of in the same sentence as Mother Teresa, but for those we meet in our lifetime, may we be an influence for good and an example of love.
Prayer: Lord, I don’t feel much of a saint, but that is what your Word says I am. Forgive me when I fail to be a good influence to those around me and I cause you pain. Help me to live my life in such a way that people see you when they look at me. Amen.