Mom, What Are We To Do With the Saints?

Cheryl Swope The Homeschooling Educator Leave a Comment

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Our circle of homeschooling friends includes children who endeavor to become saints through meritorious works and sacrifices, who pray to saints, and who are named for saints. When my own children struggle, suffer, or even lose a familiar item, these homeschooling friends can advise precisely which saint should hear their prayer for help. All of this seems odd and unfamiliar to my own children, yet as if by instinct they know that the Christian saints serve some purpose in a life of faith. “Mom, what are we to do with the saints?”

Urbanas Rhegius, confessor at Smalcald, answers this question quite simply: We should “honor the saints just as the early church honored them by respectfully celebrating their memory.”[1] Luther expounds with a mercifully soteriological way of leading us back to the cross of Christ by the grace of God through faith, “We rightly honor the saints when we recognize that they are held up before us as a mirror of the grace and mercy of God. For just as Peter, Paul, and other saints like us in body, blood, and infirmity, were made blessed by the grace of God through faith, so we are comforted by honoring their example that God will look in mercy and grace on our infirmity.”[2]

Confirming the historical precedent for my children’s query, Rev. William Weedon created the new book for Concordia Publishing House, Celebrating the Saints, as he explains, “Lutheran Christians knew and confessed that there was a rightful place in the life of the congregation and of the individual Christian for the remembrance of the saints.”[3] He instructs, albeit with an argument from silence, “nowhere . . . do the Sacred Scriptures provide a command to invoke the saints, a promise about this being pleasing to God, or an example of anyone ever invoking the saints.”[4] Thus, rather than call upon the saints, we have been taught historically to commemorate them with the intentional emphasis on the cross of Jesus Christ. “The more we learn to celebrate the stories of the saints, the more we realize that we are always and only celebrating the love that shone forth from our Lord’s cross. That’s the literal font of holiness.”[5]

This emphasis is true with respect to the “famous” saints and also to our beloved congregational or family members whose memory we honor and cherish. We are free to remember, honor, and celebrate those who have come before us in the faith, with thanks to God and glory to our risen Savior.

What are we to do with the saints? We celebrate them, one and all!

For all the saints who from their labors rest,

Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Oh, blest communion, fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

(LSB 677:1, 4)

Free Guide

Click to download a companion teaching resource designed specifically for homeschooling families to use from Concordia Publishing House. With dates listed only by month and date, a study of the saints can begin at any time of the church year.

[1]     William Weedon, Celebrating the Saints (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2016), 7.
[2]     Weedon, Celebrating the Saints, 7.
[3]     Weedon, Celebrating the Saints, 7.
[4]     Weedon, Celebrating the Saints, 7.
[5]     Weedon, Celebrating the Saints, 8.

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About the Author
Cheryl Swope

Cheryl Swope

With a master’s degree in special education, Cheryl Swope, M. Ed., holds lifetime K-12 state teaching certifications in learning disabilities and behavior disorders and has served in public and private schools. Cheryl and her husband adopted boy/girl twins and homeschooled the children through high school. Both twins have autism, learning disabilities, and schizophrenia. Now young adults, their enduring love of literature, history, and Latin inspire Cheryl to share the hopeful message that a classical Christian education offers benefits to any child.

 

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