For all the Saints

This past weekend, we celebrated All Saints’ Sunday.

After our FAMILY FEAST we learned what a saint is according to two levels of meaning. The earliest meaning of the word saint in the Bible and the Church is that of a believer. The students understood that right away. When I asked, “Since a saint is a believer in God and Jesus Christ, what does that mean about all of us here today?” They gave an immediate and enthusiastic answer, “We are saints!”

The second meaning of the word saint pertains to the canonized Saint written with a capital “S.” These are people – living or dead – who as believers lead inspiring lives of faith. We in the Episcopal Church recognize many of them and hold special days of observance in honor of them. Coming up on November 16th, we recognize Saint Margaret of Scotland. Although she had to escape the invading armies of William the Conquerer by fleeing from her home in England to Scotland, she made a wonderful new home there. She and King Malcolm married and had eight children together.

During that time, Margaret turned a cold, grey palace into a warm and vibrant home. She brought in beautiful tapestries for warmth, and books, especially the Bible, for people to read. She opened the doors of the palace to the poor people and gave the needy money. She not only made a place for herself to pray inside the palace, she also made places for servants and others to pray. Our students especially responded to these two points, and also to a third, what Margaret prayed just before she died.

St. Margaret became ill around the time Scotland and England were at war. King Malcolm and their sons went into battle. When their youngest son returned, he did not want to tell Margaret that King Malcolm and the oldest son died in battle, but Margaret, though very ill, intuitively knew they had died. She prayed to God, “Please let me be free,” and on that day, she died. This was very meaningful to the students. When asked who in their own lives inspires them, they shared about older relatives who had died and how they felt a special connection to them. The students understand from their own lives as well as from Sunday School lessons, that the Communion of Saints includes all believers on each side of life, this side on earth, and the other side with God in heaven.