“They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” – Revelation 7:16-17

Martin Luther famously said that while we live we are all simultaneously saints and sinners. We are imperfect and messy, prone to doing all the wrong things, and completely hapless. And yet, we are also the beloved children of God, trying every day to get it just a little more right. In other words, we are human beings who are alive.

Protestants believe something else, too. We believe that when we die we join the Communion of Saints. Far from a club for people who lived perfect lives, or believed without doubt, sainthood is a state achieved not by works but by dying in the hope of Christ’s grace and love. 

That means that one day we will all be saints. For now, though, we are simply saints-in-training. Like any other learners, we will often get it wrong. We will stumble and cause pain. We will behave in decidedly un-saintlike ways. And yet, we will continue to move forward, closer to sainthood with each breath.

On this day when we remember the saints who came before us, how will you become just a little more saint-like? What will you do differently? How will you claim the title that will one day be given to you?

There will come a day when every tear this life brings will be wiped away, and fear will be no more. On that day sainthood will be less joyless perfection and more a celebration of God’s grace and goodness. Maybe for those of us who are on this side of sainthood that means that today is a great day to start practicing joy. 


God, help me learn to be a saint. But not too soon God, and not too perfectly. Amen. 

dd-emilyheath.jpgAbout the Author
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the author of Glorify: Reclaiming the Heart of Progressive Christianity.