Friday, May 13, 2011

The Communion of Saints

I believe in the communion of saints. I know that will make some cringe, and others will wonder what the phrase means. First I want to explain what my understanding of the communion of saints is, and let you know this is what I believe. I believe it because it is biblical. I believe it, because I feel it in my soul.

The communion of saints is not worshipping a saint. Nor is it thinking that a saint by his or her own ability can make things happen for us. It is instead believeing that the body of Christ transcends both time, and death. It's believing that when someone dies in the Lord, he/she reigns with the Lord. They are alive in Heaven with Jesus Christ, in the place He has provided for us. When someone asks a saint to pray for them, it's a beautiful thing. It shows two things, one that they believe that what God said is true! They believe that when we die in the Lord, we live forever! Second, it shows that you think that person is close to God, and can pray for you. That that person lived a wonderful life, and emulated Christ in what they did. The saint doesn't make what you want happen anymore than you praying does, the saint petitions Jesus through prayer just as you do, and prays on your behalf. God does the answering. God decides if you get what you ask for or not.

Saints aren't limited to canonized saints, or even a time period. Your mother or father, grandmother, grandfather, all of them if they were Christian are saints. Which means that you can indeed still talk to your relatives, because they aren't dead. They are still very much alive, and always will be. You can ask Mathew, Mark, Luke and John to pray for you, just as you might send me an email and say Brian, will you pray for me. You can pray for your relatives too. I truly believe that God transcends time and that prayer isn't limited to our lifetime. It's not limited anymore than God is limited, but it has to be His will.

That being said, I truly believe that Mary, the mother of Christ should be a very important figure in our lives. That doesn't mean we should worship her, but we should hold her in a place of honor and learn from her example. What do you mean? Learn from Mary's example? Well I mean that there are lessons to learn from Mary's recorded part in the Bible. I'll go into two of them that really have made a difference in my life.

Luke 1:26 - 38 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledc the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

I don't think there are many left alive who have not heard the story of Jesus birth. But there is a huge lesson to be learned from Mary in her response. An angel came to her and said, God is going to give you a child. Imagine how you would react if a man walked up to you today, and you were a young unwed woman, and said, You're pregnant, with God's baby.

Most of us would freak out. Mary probably was a little bewildered to when she said, "But I'm a virgin, how can I have a child?" Then the angel said, this is God's will. And she responded, simply: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Lesson 1 to learn from Mary - Obedience. Mary didn't say "do you know what this will do to my life? I'm not even married. They'll stone me! How can you do this to me God? Don't you know how this will affect ME? My family!?" No, Mary simply accepted it. She found out it was God's will and she said, I am your servant Lord, do to me as you have said. We should do the same. When God tells us to give money to someone, we shouldn't hold it in our hand arguing over what it will do to our funds. If he tells us to brush someones hair, then we should brush their hair. If he tells you to get on your knees and pray in the middle of a crowded air port, get on your knees and pray. Mary gives us an example of humble obedience. Simply doing what God wants us to do, when he says.

The second lesson I think of when I think of Mary, the Mother of God, is simply this. Mary was the vessel through which God came into the world. Physically. Through her body, Christ was brought into this world. That is our lesson in and of itself. We are the body of Christ. It is through us, not because we are special, not because we have any power, but because God has chosen us to be His vessels, that Christ can come into the world daily. It is our job as the body of Christ to do things. To help the poor. To lift up the broken. To feed the hungry, to nurse the sick. We are to reach out and through our own pain, suffering, and trials edify and lift up our brothers and sisters! We are to bring Christ into the world, no matter what pain, what cost, what inconvenience it may cause to ourselves. Just as Mary humbly accepted, and then delivered the Baby Jesus into this world through her own suffering, sweat and blood.. so should we. We should be willing to shed our sweat, our tears, our blood in order to bring Jesus to others. To deliver His message into this world.

I do not worship Mary, no one is supposed to. But I do hold her in a place of honor. I also learn from her. I learn from her examples in the Bible, and from her humility and meekness. I learn that I am here to bring not my will about, but God's will. I pray that you find this message as beautiful as I do.

In Christ,