I was recently chatting with an old friend. We both have adult children and we both are old enough to see ourselves playing out in the lives of our offspring. The vantage point of a parent is fascinating. There was a time when I was a parent in function, now I am a parent in fact. The work of parenting is pretty much over and I am left to mostly observe. If you have children and are anything like me, you see recognizable positives and negatives. We do make an imprint on the generation that comes after us. They pick up on our strengths and they pick up on our weaknesses and to that they add that what is distinctively their own.
Made in God’s Image
I wonder if that might not be something like what it means to be made in God’s image. God makes an imprint on us that is recognizable. I imagine that God looks on us as children and sees the intimate connection we have with the god self, but it would be hard to miss the part that is “distinctively our own,” we have ventured into a reality that is less than what God intended. In the language of the church, “we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord.”In the language of St. Augustine, we are simultaneously saint and sinner. It is a Lutheran understanding of “saint.” Last evening at confirmation, one of the students said, its like we are completely good, but we sin every minute. That is about as good of a description as there could be!
Of Saints and Sinners
There are those who distinguish “saints” that follow God’s will, and “sinners,” who do not. There are others who set aside Sainthood for those extra-ordinary folks who standout in their faithfulness. Either way, most of us, if we are honest are somewhere in the middle. We do plenty that is saintly and plenty that is sinful. That is a rather Lutheran way of seeing things. “Saints” are not just those who led particularly exemplary lives and so are remembered. It includes those who have not quite lived up to God’s expectations as well, in other words it includes all of us!
The Communion of Saints
In the Apostles Creed, it speaks of the communion of the saints. For me that is a connection not only with those who have gone before, those living and dead who have touched my life with light and goodness, but it also includes those who have not completely measured up. That is good news, because it means there is a place for sinners like me!