(Each month Ms. Townsend will answer questions which have been asked by members of our congregation or respond to issues that come up in general conversation.)
Dear Ms. Townsend,
I see where the Catholic Church has made saints out of two dead popes. What do we Lutherans believe about saints?
Saints play a very important role in the Christian life. We name our churches after them (St. Mark, for example.) We commemorate saints’ days when they fall on Sunday. We also emphasize All Saints’ day which is always the first Sunday in November and we sing, “For all the saints who from their labors rest…” Even though most pastors I know refer to their parishioners as saints, historically sainthood has been reserved for those whom the grace of God has resurrected into the presence of God. The remembering of particular saints is a way of honoring those who have shown extraordinary faith in their earthly life and who now inspire us.
Two things Lutherans believe about sainthood:
- It is not God’s reward for being a high Christian achiever. God’s grace is equally for all.
- We don’t need saints as mediator between us and God. God hears your every prayer. You may call upon a saint to pray for you just as you call on your neighbor to pray for you. That simply means there are more prayers before God on your behalf.
In short, saints are not “goody-goody” individuals, but those in whom God is working toward His ends. That includes both the living and the dead.
Blessings to you,