All Saints Day (November 1st) is a day that we remember the “saints” – those for whom Christ lived and died and lived again. It is especially those who now have died themselves and live again fully in God’s eternal love that are brought to mind and heart. It is a time I give thought to and thanks for those “saints” who have particularly impacted my life by their example of faith and living. Thinking of them reminded me of an article I read entitled: The Power of an Example. The author writes:
I used to play a game with the two year old daughter of a friend of mine. “What does the lion say?” I would ask, and Madison would respond: “Roarrrr!” We would run through a zooful of animals and she would always know their sounds. One day for fun, I asked her “What does Mommy say?” Without blinking an eye, Madison yelled “NO!” Madison’s mother was not pleased with the response.
Children learn from others, especially adults. Their eager young brains soak up every piece of data, from the way their best friend talks to how their mom makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Kids hang on every example and often find time to emulate what they see or hear. As soon as there is trust established between a child and an adult, the example of that person takes on new depth and the learning becomes easier and easier.
Each of us face the same opportunity. Like Madison, the people who interact with us regularly have the opportunity to look at us as examples. What examples are you setting? What examples are you setting of which you might not be aware? What could you do to change these examples?
The examples we set, even unconscious ones are powerful, but not only because of the immediate behavior they might engender. Each example hints at a much larger reality. Each example is the first step toward a vision! Does your day-to-day example fit the overall vision of your understanding of what the Lord hopes of you? Does your day-to-day example match your vision of yourself?
So, as we celebrate again the lives of the saints, living now and eternally, on All Saints Day (this year on Sunday, Nov. 1st) I invite you to join me in an ongoing discernment of the “example” we set as “saints” in the Lord. Our examples on a day-to-day basis point toward our larger vision. What vision are you casting for your family, friends, community, congregation and world?
Rev. Jimmy Lee Werley