Today is All Saints Sunday, which is an opportunity to think about those who have gone before us in the faith. And I want to focus on what Saints do. I read a great essay recently on Theology as Narrative and a section of it concentrates on the difference between Hero's and Saints (For the article see: Hauerwas, S. (2010). Theology as Narrative. In: L Bretherton & R Rook (Eds). Living Out Loud. pp. 23-38. Paternoster: Milton Keynes). Hauerwas makes the distinction between the Greek ideal of Hero something which we understand well in Western thought, the Soldier. The problem he suggests is we all want to be the hero. A Christian is instead called to be a saint:
The hero is always at the centre of the story. By contrast, the saint is not necessarily a crucial character. The saint may be almost invisible, easily missed, quickly forgotten. The hero's story is always about the hero. The saint is always periphery of a story which is really about God. (Hauerwas, 2010, 35)
Saints are portrayed as outdated and unhelpful especially in reformed thought. However, coming to saints from a history of suspicion (my background is non conformist) looking at saints again is enlightening.
I think Hauerwas' distinction is helpful, because it helps reorient our lives. Without the light of the sun life is a struggle (see previous post on Light- Frozen Planet), without the Light of the World as the centre of life, then it too is a struggle, if we are the centre of everything then life really is all about us and our selfishness. There is no need to love our neighbour (unless I can get something out of it), there is no need to exercise grace in our relationships.
A hero fears failure, flees mistakes, and knows no repentance: the saint knows that light only comes through cracks, that beauty is as much (if not more) about restoration as about creation (Hauerwas, 2010, 36)
In the light of Christ and in the power of the Spirit let us pray with one voice.