"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." (NIV) Hebrews 12:1
Yes, today is All Saints' Sunday. I sat in church this morning listening to Pastor's wonderful sermon, selection of hymns and scripture, and saw all the other parishioners. It made me reflect, it made me wonder. . . . all those incredible people that are now with our Heavenly Father that have had an impact on my Simple Faith and the Simple Faith of my family.
I can't help but start with my grandfather, who was a Lutheran minister. I never met my grandfathers and that always made me sad. I always wanted to know what they were like, what it would have been like to walk, hand in hand, down the street. I know they are with our Savior, but I always wondered. Although I never met my grandfather, I KNOW he had an influence on my family's faith. I am sure he influenced both my mom growing up and, later on, my mom and dad as a newly married couple.
My grandmothers also influenced me. My grandma would pray her rosaries every night. She was deeply rooted in her faith and many of my fondest memories are of her praying as I fell asleep. My Nana attended church with us, and was always a part of my church memories, especially the day I made my Confirmation. Both of these strong women showed me how their faith impacted their lives with such incredible strength. I also know they are in heaven keeping everyone up there in line!
My dad, yes, also had an influence on me. He was one who lived his faith - he showed that many times over to his wife, his children, and his surrounding community. He couldn't necessarily quote scripture, but he lived his life as a testimony to Jesus. He always shared that he was "strong like bull"; at the end - that may not have been his physical condition, but it certainly was his spiritual condition.
Then there are those outside of my direct family that had an influence on my faith. My pastor growing up, Pastor Kucharik and my dear Sunday School teacher, Mr. Dzuroska, will forever be in my heart as people who influenced my deep faith to an understanding of a teenager. They were amazing saints that God definitely put into my life to influence me.
What about my family past me? There is no doubt that my husband's parents, both with Our Lord, influenced his faith and commitment to Jesus. Juan often speaks of the times his father would sit at the table with the family Bible open, just reading. His mom, a great servant of the church, found her time to be dedicated much to God and serving the church community. I know that their influence on Juan has found its way into my heart as well.
Such great saints - people who witnessed their faith to me, to us. The best part is, as Pastor shared this morning, that they are still influencing us - albeit far away. They still watch down on us, continuing to be our witnesses, helping us, guiding us, ensuring that the faith they gave to us does not vanish. With God's ever-present hand, the faith that began with earthly family and friends, has continued to bring us closer to Him every day. It is this faith that helps us continue on the path He provides for us - the path that God brought to our lives.
Who are your saints? Who are the people that have gone on to heaven that influenced YOUR life, YOUR faith? Think about them, thank our Dear Lord for their presence in your life, hold them close to your heart, and continue the simple faith that they brought to you. That is truly the greatest gift you can give these all-deserving saints.