Friday, November 1, 2013

A celebration for everyone else

Orange and black decorations hung limp from the bushes in my neighborhood this morning, drenched by rain and torn apart from the suddenly-chilly November wind.  But today is a holiday too, one appropriately forgotten by greeting cards and retail stores.

It is the holiday of the largely quiet servants, those who serve and pray and give and sacrifice and who pull together incredible feats without any recognition at all, and rarely, if any, thanks.  When my sister in law went to her grandfather's funeral, the church was filled with people she had never seen before.  The church was filled with stories she had never heard before, quiet acts of kindness, loans made and never collected, mortgage payments covered, hospital bills paid, story after story that revealed not a man of worldly importance, but a gracious friend who loved everyone around him and brought glory to God.

Today we honor those faithful.  It is All Saint's Day, a remembrance of those who walk beside us and before us, those on whose foundation we stand, God's people strategically positioned in time and place, individuals both known and unknown by us, those who didn't have it so easy, but were faithful anyway, living without fanfare, living with an heart full of God's grace.

I read my Bible in English this morning.  Five hundred years ago, a man named William Tyndale chose to defy the law of the land and translate the Bible into English.  His work was so excellent, it actually changed the English language, refining it so exactly that it initiated an explosion of great literature, laying the linguistic pathways for those such as Shakespeare.  And for that intentional obedience in making God's Word accessible to the common man, Tyndale was imprisoned and executed.  He was one of those faithful.

All Saints Day was declared by Pope Julius II in 1512 at the unveiling of Michelangelo's work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the result of lying on his back for four years on wobbly scaffolding sixty feet in the air, his masterpiece covering 10,000 square feet, so incredible it still takes one's breath away.  He too left behind a faithful work that impacts the world.

God uses His people every day to make a difference in this world and manifest His faithful presence through us.  It may not always be on the scale of the Sistine Chapel, but it is not up to us to deem what is more significant.  There is nothing wasted in bringing glory to God.  Even in the every days, even in the every ways.  The question is:  What has He given me to do?

May those who come behind us
         find us faithful.

...that the next generation might know them,
          the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God...

                           Psalm 78. 6-7

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