Accidental Saints

saintsOn All Saints Sunday just a few days ago, as we celebrated the lives of loved ones we had lost in the past year, I preached about “Accidental Saints,” people who let the light of God show through their imperfect lives. The point I was trying to make is that while we ought to be inspired by the Saints (capital S) of the church who have left the world compelling witnesses of love, justice, and mercy throughout the centuries, we also need to keep our eyes open for the saints (small s) who grace our lives. The title of my sermon comes from a new book by Nadia Bolz-Weber that I absolutely love (full disclosure: beware of the raw and honest language, but if you can get past that, there is such grace and poignancy. She writes:

“I have come to realize that all the saints I’ve known have been accidental ones — people who inadvertently stumbled into redemption like they were looking for something else at the time, people who have just a wee bit of a drinking problem and manage to get sober and help others to do the same, people who are as kind as they are hostile.”
(Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People)

Frederick Buechner also invites us to consider the flawed earthy lives of the saints in the world in this short passage:

“A saint is a life-giver . . . a human being with the same sorts of hang-ups and abysses as the rest of us, but if a saint touches your life, you come alive in a new way.”

(Frederick Buechner in The Clown in the Belfry)

At the close of my sermon we saw an inspiring clip from the movie, St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray. If ever there was an unlikely saint, it was Vincent who smoke, drank, and dragged the young boy in his care, Oliver, to bars and racetracks. But in the process, he left an indelible mark on the life of Oliver because of his care, compassion, and witness which is why he nominates him for sainthood at the school assembly.

So who are the saints in your life? And what makes someone a saint in the first place in your book?