What do John the Baptist and Kermit the Frog have in common?
The same middle name.
My sister Maryanne ended her earthly journey this past year at the age of fifty-seven. She was a gifted scenic artist who had lived a wonderfully bohemian life in Manhattan for years, who traveled to Europe, and enjoyed multiple enthusiasm from classical singing to pro wrestling. Yet she turned her back on all that and chose to be a simple wife and mom, struggling to make ends meet in a very unglamorous job for a marketing company in Tacoma, Washington. I worried about her for years. In the end, however, I realized that a life has to be judged on balance, and that there is wonderful romance to be found in commonplace things. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
My congregation, Faith Lutheran of Philadelphia, has lost five faithful members since last All Saints Day. Marilyn, who lost her only son and husband, but who taught us how to be family in Christ. John, who learned Spanish in his eighties and sent his first “tweet” at the age of ninety-three, and taught us all how to age with verve and joy. Doris, a shut-in who faithfully stuffed cash into an offering envelope every week, blissfully cheerful in spite of the grumpiness of her elderly husband, and smiling and perky even in her hospital bed. She taught us the value of patience. Chick, who was the most loving and compassionate step-father to his wife's children, who mowed the church lawn, made generous donations to the offering without calling any attention to himself, and never raised his voice above a hush. Bob, who mourned his first wife's death so deeply, but came alive again when he fell in love in his sixties, a virtual Lazarus, and testament to the goodness of God.
All of them are blessed saints—the meek, the mourners, the sweet and pure of heart, the poor in the things of this world but rich in the things of God. What is a saint, after all, but a sinner redeemed by God's grace?
I believe it is my purpose in life to be a bard for the everyday saints of this world. Every life, you see, is an epic. Every life has something to teach us.
And you too, my friend, are a saint—made holy even in your weakness—an ambassador for Christ.
May the knowledge of your own blessedness bring you peace.