A Last Beatitude
And blessèd are the ones we overlook;
The faithful servers on the coffee rota,
The ones who hold no candle, bell or book
But keep the books and tally up the quota,
The gentle souls who come to ‘do the flowers’,
The quiet ones who organise the fete,
Church sitters who give up their weekday hours,
Doorkeepers who may open heaven’s gate.
God knows the depths that often go unspoken
Amongst the shy, the quiet, and the kind,
Or the slow healing of a heart long broken
Placing each flower so for a year’s mind.
Invisible on earth, without a voice,
In heaven their angels glory and rejoice.
-Malcolm Guide, from Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year
The beauty of All Saints Sunday lies in the time set aside to lift up these “overlooked” saints Malcolm Guide describes.
The ones who, to borrow from Mother Teresa, do “small things with great love.” Who in so many ways not only keep the church running, but make the church the church.
The ones who “do the flowers,” who staff the office reception desk, who give stickers to the children on Sunday morning, who put the bulletins on the ministers’ chairs on the chancel and water behind the pulpit, who help people find a place for their walkers, who count the money on Tuesday mornings, who hang the Christmas decorations, who pull the weeds, who paint the doors, who teach the children, who stuff the grocery bags, who attend the funeral.
The word saint literally means “holy one,” and each of these reveal some glimpse of holiness. They pull back the curtain on the heavenly among us and remind us what Jesus meant when he said the kingdom of God is at hand. We see it most often not in a light shining down from above, but shining through in acts and habits of simple kindness or generosity.
We know the church is serving its purpose in the world when we create an environment where these kinds of “faithful servers” flourish.
Over the past almost two years we have been reminded in ways that are as profound as they are painful of the gift of life and what a blessing it is that we get to spend it with others. In the end, this is what we celebrate on this All Saints Sunday: the miracle and mystery of shared life. Isn’t this community? You give me a little bit of your life and I give you a little of mine. Through God’s grace we watch how life multiplies as it divides. The more we share the more we receive ourselves. And all the while the future of hope we dream of grows between us.