All your saints
Ephesians 1: 1-14 (GNT)
1 From Paul, who by God's will is an apostle of Christ Jesus—
To God's people in Ephesus, who are faithful in their life in union with Christ Jesus:
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3 Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. 4 Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him.
Because of his love 5 God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children—this was his pleasure and purpose. 6 Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! 7 For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, 8 which he gave to us in such large measure!
In all his wisdom and insight 9 God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. 10 This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.
11 All things are done according to God's plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of his own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning. 12 Let us, then, who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God's glory!
13 And you also became God's people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised. 14 The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!
This month is devoted to the Saints – from All Saints at the beginning to our Patron Saint Andrew at the end, and I like to think of the rest of us, ordinary or extraordinary saints, in between.
‘We saints, in Ephesus or Stirling or anywhere on earth’ – this phrase from this week’s notes in the theme resource pack, really appeals to me. It grounds the language – saints are not plaster figures, or haloed paintings, but real people, like you and me.
All God’s people –
‘all the world’ as Psalm 100 had it for us yesterday,
‘all people that on earth do dwell’ as the familiar version has it,
all the saints,
everywhere and in all time,
connected by our faith,
by our love,
by our belonging,
by our following our Good Shepherd.
Good Shepherd of all your sheep,
we give thanks for all your saints,
near and far,
then and now.
We look around us,
we see your saints of today -
some we easily recognise,
others are still unknown to us,
waiting to be included,
gathered in to your sheepfold.
May we be shepherds to them.