This morning at church we celebrated All Saints Sunday by lighting candles in memory of saints and loved ones who have passed away.
In his sermon, Father Banks told us a story of many years ago when people were being confirmed as members of the Episcopal church and were asked questions by the visiting bishop. All those being confirmed sat in the front pew and answered the questions correctly until the last young man. The bishop asked him: “What is a saint?” There was only silence as the young man looked around nervously. He didn’t remember learning this in catechism. Then he looked at the stained glass window behind the bishop depicting Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The young man grinned and pointed over the bishop’s head to the window. Those are saints up there, right behind you! The saints are the ones who let the light shine through!
Father Banks reminded us that saints are ordinary people who have an extraordinary relationship with God. Ordinary people who are not perfect, who make mistakes, but they let the light shine through.
When it was my turn to light a candle, I lit one in memory of my sister who died in a car accident in 1975. My sister was on her way to celebrate her 16th birthday with her boyfriend. They were both killed by a drunk driver on their way to the restaurant.
We were just starting to get over our sibling rivalry. My sister and I were polar opposites in many ways.
She was outgoing and rebellious. (I rebelled later.) She skipped school a lot, pan-handled to buy cigarettes, and who knows what else, and she even ran away from home a couple of times.
This same sister also loved animals and volunteered at a small group home for handicapped children. She loved to take care of the Carobel kids, especially the bedridden boy who’s huge hydro-cephalic head had to be turned often. Until today, I had not thought of my sister as a saint, but she was. She was not perfect, but she let the light of God shine through her, if only for a short time.
A lovely beam of light shines through the big stained glass window at the back of our church. I didn’t realize, until today, that this light beam is only visible because it comes through a broken place in the window.
We are flawed. We make mistakes. But we can still let the light shine through. We let the light shine into our hearts. We are blessed that way.