Just before moving here, I read a book on leadership about your first ninety days in a new job. What you do, what your first steps are, how you navigate the change for you and the organization – that kind of thing. I was initially astonished when I read that one of the things that you should do is “promote yourself.” It struck me as rather self-serving and a tad obnoxious. You don’t get off on the right foot by promoting yourself with new co-workers and colleagues.
I would have done well to have remembered that when reading, one should read all the way to the end of something in order to get its meaning. The author continued in this chapter (much to my chagrin) to say that he was not, in fact, encouraging you to boast on why you have the new position or seek to advance even further. What he meant by “promote yourself” was to begin seeing yourself as your new role called for you to be. In other words, I should, in my own mind and soul and being, begin to act and think like the Lead Pastor of First UMC of Cary. By doing so, I would actually be the Lead Pastor of First UMC of Cary.
That made more sense. In some ways, we are who we believe ourselves to be. If we live out of a set of convictions and principles that dictate who we are, if we live into our true identity, then we gradually become exactly that.
For Christians, this is vital. We are the baptized; the body of Christ; the church. We are “a holy people.” If we live and act that way, then we actually begin to be that way. A change takes place within us and it shows in how we live. We actually, as Paul might put it, begin to be the saints of God.
It’s hard for us to consider ourselves saints. Saints, we think, are people of extraordinary holiness or virtue. But for the New Testament, “saint” meant baptized. To be a “saint” was simply to be a member of the community, someone water-washed and seeking to live the Jesus life. It was that simple; it was that complex.
This Sunday, we will gather and observe our annual “All Saints'” remembrance. We will read the names of church members who have joined the Church Triumphant in the past year; we will give time for you to name others who have mattered to you on the journey who have gone ahead. We will gather at the table and join the communion of saints in the holy meal. We will give thanks for the witness of those before us and we will name them as saints.
And we will look forward to living into our own title change. We will remember that Christ calls us to be saints. We will try together to find ways to act like saints and discover that is what we are becoming: not extraordinarily holy or virtuous, perhaps, but becoming so by God’s grace.
Grace and peace.