A few weeks ago, our pastor asked us to contribute a written piece describing what it means to be in the “communion of saints.” That is to say, how saints aren’t necessarily long-dead, but still live among us, even if they aren’t canonized.
Anyway, here’s what we submitted. 🙂
As we have come together and grown our family, we have found that one of the best places to commune with other saints in the body of Christ is in our own neighborhood in the City of St. Louis. Our experience has brought us from living in small towns, on a farm in the middle of nowhere, and in the thick of an urban center, yet the most interesting and rewarding relationships we have formed began and thrived in the city.
Perhaps we would be most comfortable in a rural setting: sitting on the back porch, sipping iced tea, and watching the sun set over corn fields. At the same time, bringing even a small part of this mentality with us back to South City not only presents the opportunity to help educate our neighbors in the ways of a simpler life, but also teach us more about how both “the city” and “the country” complement each other. Whether we spend our time wrangling chickens, tending a garden the size of our entire back yard, washing cloth diapers, or brewing our own beer using hops we grew and barley we malted ourselves, we know that our passions can and do influence those around us. Further, we know our children will be able to take our frequently “out of place” passions and adapt them to suit their own hopes and dreams, as they become saints of their own accord.
The dictionary tells us that a “saint” is “a person of great holiness, virtue, or benevolence.” It’s clearly presumptuous to see ourselves in this way, yet we feel it is a spectacular goal to continually strive to. Part of being benevolent is going where the needs are most apparent. Our neighborhood might not be the quietest, or the most well-kept place we could have chosen to live, but we have encountered all sorts of saints on our street – the young kindergarten teacher two doors down who is happy to share his own garden’s abundance and retrieve eggs from our chicken coop when we go out of town; the retired ladies across the way who remind us of street cleaning days so we can avoid a parking ticket; the skateboarding man who keeps an eye out for the kids playing soccer on the sidewalk; and the Honduran family whose children speak far more English than their parents – they’ve all been examples to us of God’s constant love, grace, and faithfulness, and of the diversity of His creation.
Our activities growing up, including Boy Scouts and 4-H, taught us to leave every place we visit better than we found it. The unspoken part of this mantra is that there are places out there that still need to be found, and still need to be left better. In both our lives before meeting each other, and the life we’ve chosen to lead together, we hope we’ve been able to help out where we can, setting an example where appropriate, and serving God in the places that need Him the most.
It’s what saints do. It’s what we should all do.