Editor's note:

Hap­py All Saints’ Day! Fred­er­ick Buech­n­er joins us today to reflect a bit on the eclec­tic parade of saints that have danced the path of Chris­ten­dom through­out the ages and con­tin­ue to inspire and instruct us today. Look­ing at their lives, we can­not help but see how great is the God they serve.

—Renovaré Team

In his holy flir­ta­tion with the world, God occa­sion­al­ly drops a pock­et hand­ker­chief. These hand­ker­chiefs are called saints.

Many peo­ple think of saints as plas­ter saints, men and women of such par­a­lyz­ing virtue that they nev­er thought a nasty thought or did an evil deed their whole lives long. As far as I know, real saints nev­er even come close to char­ac­ter­iz­ing them­selves that way. On the con­trary, no less a saint than Saint Paul wrote to Tim­o­thy, I am fore­most among sin­ners”( 1 Tim­o­thy 1:15) …

In oth­er words, the feet of saints are as much of clay as every­body else’s, and their saint­hood con­sists less of what they have done than of what God has for some rea­son cho­sen to do through them. When you con­sid­er that Saint Mary Mag­da­lene was pos­sessed by sev­en dev­ils, that Saint Augus­tine prayed, Give me chasti­ty and con­ti­nence, but not now,” that Saint Fran­cis start­ed out as a high-liv­ing young dude in down­town Assisi, and that Saint Sime­on Stylites spent years on top of a six­ty-foot pil­lar, you fig­ure that maybe there’s nobody God can’t use as a means of grace, includ­ing even ourselves.

The Holy Spir­it has been called the Lord, the giv­er of life” and, draw­ing their pow­er from that source, saints are essen­tial­ly life-givers. To be with them is to become more alive.

Originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words, via FrederickBuechner.com.

Starting Soon: The 2020-21 Renovaré Book Club

An inten­tion­al way to read for trans­for­ma­tion not just infor­ma­tion. Runs Sep­tem­ber 2020 through May 2021.

Learn More >