The communion of saints

This is a strange one to be thankful for…  I’m not even exactly sure what it is.

It pops up at the end of the apostles’ creed along with the much more touted forgiveness and resurrection.  There’s no explanation, no rationale; it’s just there.

It’s not a phrase I often think about, but it’s crossed my mind several times lately for different reasons…

***

November first was All Saints’ Day and this quote was posted on a blog I follow:

Our Christian life is not lived in splendid isolation; it is lived in this communion of saints…

The blogger and I come from different Christian traditions, but the differences aren’t the important things.

***

Dorcas Smucker’s blog the next day made me laugh out loud (as is wont to happen).  I had just written about being thankful for my brothers, and the intro that she included about brothers and their shortcomings, or perceived shortcomings, made me chuckle.  That bit has been re-written, so the brothers aren’t there anymore, but it’s still a great post.  And the quote of the day at the end (with its realistic postscript)  is a gem.

The post is about disappointment and expectations, but to my mind that fits right into the messiness that comes from being part of a community, even a community of the redeemed.

***

I also recently came up to Hebrews 11 and 12 in my current, slow-going, read-through-the-Bible plan.  Following the laundry list of the faithful in Hebrews 11, the author concludes with this:

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Now that sounds like communion of the saints to me.

***

This communion isn’t an easy, fluffy affinity for others who are like us.

It’s true that some of the people in this communion of saints are people I love dearly and deeply and have a lot in common with, but others are people that annoy me or embarrass me  and make me angry or whose company I just can’t stand.  They’re people who confuse me, and we may disagree about many things, but, somehow, we all need each other, and can bless each other, and are being built together into something beautiful.

So, I’m thankful.

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