Reflection - November 3, 2016

By Darren McClellan

published 11/3/2016
Dear Saints of Baypines,

In his brief introductory work Evangelical Theology, Karl Barth described the “communion of saints” as those “who were encountered by the Word and so moved by it that they could not withdraw themselves from its message and its call.  Instead, they became able, willing, and ready to receive it as secondary witnesses, offering themselves, their lives, thought, and speech to the Word of God” (p. 37).

In this week of All Saints observances, I am remembering a particular saint whom I had the pleasure of encountering in a previous appointment (we’ll call her ‘Eve’).  Eve and her husband were both in their mid-90s and in our visits together we would, at her initiative, often rehearse her final arrangements.  With a twinkle is her eye she would inevitably remind me just how proud she was of her plan to donate her body to the medical school at the University South Alabama following her death.  Admittedly, however, not everyone in Eve’s family shared her enthusiasm over the matter.  In particular, Eve’s daughter found it particularly disconcerting that her beloved mother had no plans for a designated memorial plot, and was altogether uninterested in doing so.  In the midst of emotional dispute, the daughter would frequently ask, “mother, don’t you at least want a tombstone?” 

With calm, Eve’s response was always the same: “Darling if I haven’t made my mark on the world after all these years of opportunity, I don’t see how a rock in a field is going to help.” 

I think Eve was on to something.  That woman is (and was) as saint…as one in Christ, she emptied herself (Phil. 2:5-11).  As a result, her witness lives on in the here and now, and into eternity.  This is for the glory of God.

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight (Ps. 16:3).

As the search for saints continues, I ask your prayers this week for the Extended Cabinet Training that will be taking place in Jacksonville, FL on Nov. 2-4.  I, along with Bishop David Graves and the rest of his Cabinet, will gather with other such representatives from Annual Conferences across the United States for a time of worship, instruction, connection, and prayer.  Undoubtedly, there will be much conversation about the future of the United Methodist Church as a whole, and deep consideration over the task of leadership in this present age.  I look forward to sharing a synopsis of my experience in next week’s reflection.  Until then, I offer these words of the Apostle Paul as the substance of my spirit for the moment:

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints (Eph. 1:17-18).

Grace to You,