I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
Show me your ways, Lord, and teach me your paths. – Psalm 25:4 (NIV)
“I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true,” I sang in my loudest little kid voice. Then I mumble-sang the verses about martyrs dying for the Lord, but I belted back on this chorus: “And one was a doctor, and one was a queen, and one was a shepherdess on the green; they were all of them saints of God, and I mean…” God would help me to be one too!
Statistically speaking, those three jobs would not turn out to be particularly predictive for the average working person of my generation. Nor were the job openings in the next verse: “And one was a solider and one was a priest and one was slain by a fierce wild beast.” But in the third grade, this saintly career fair represented a thrilling set of vocational options.
While I had no desire to be eaten by a tiger, even for the Lord, I still recall the thrilling twitches of energy in my lower belly when I considered the outfits associated with being a shepherdess, a queen or a priest. All three were saints of God and all three got to wear fabulous dresses to work. Where could I meet such people? According to the hymn, I could meet them “in school, or in lanes, or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea.”
But I was not a sailor. Nor was I invited to many tea parties, other than in my own imagination. Regrettably, I didn’t yet know that the lanes in the hymn were English country paths, not bowling alleys, so I wasted a fair amount of time in that regard. As for grade school, there were no shepherdesses there, just a few fierce wild beasts.
So church was where I found my saints: the choir members, cat lovers, union organizers and chefs, the protesters, soup stirrers, nurses and vets, the wonderful saints who opened my eyes to see Jesus’ love behind this surprise.
“For the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one too.” Amen. (Lesbia Scott, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God”)
Lillian Daniel is Senior Pastor at First Congregational Church in Dubuque, Iowa, and the author of When “Spiritual But Not Religious” Is Not Enough.