About Me

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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Saint Enough

2017-11-12 Ps 23 and 1Th 04 13-18 Saint Enough

In the traditions of the Mother Church, the Roman Catholic, there's a saint for just about everything you can imagine. After 2000 years, like Farmer's Insurance, they've seen almost everything, so they know how to cover almost anything.

 There's Saint Drogo – patron saint of coffee houses, baristas. (My favorite.)

Saint Arnold, of Beer-brewers.

(Some of you are ready to convert right now.)


St. Malo – of pig-keepers.

St. Chad – of the losers, disappointed and unsuccessful.

St. Tryphon – protects against infestations of bedbugs, rodents and locusts.

St. Dymphna – sleepwalkers.

St. Albinus of Angers – protects against pirate attack.

Now, we Protestants are more egalitarian. Ever since Martin Luther, we say everyone's a saint in his or her own way. Every believer is a saint. But. If you were a ship's captain? And if you were sailing into pirate-infested waters? Wouldn't you be glad Albinus of Angers was there to hear your prayers and watch your back?

Saints in the tradition of Albinus and Chad are specialists. They do one thing, they do it very well. In our tradition, saints are more generalists. Like PAs and nurses at the 24-hour clinic, who treat everything from head lice to heart attacks. A generalist at the right time is still very special. Because sometimes you've got so many problems, you don't know what to treat first. The right person at the right time, or even the wrong person, if you're in a time of need – if that person will hear your prayers and watch your back – that can surely be saint enough.


Last Sunday we observed All Saints' Day. We honored the saints of our own church who have died in the past year. Today, I want to talk about saints who are living. Saints we can walk right up to and shake their hand or give them a hug. Saints around us. Saints among us.

Know your saints. How do you identify a saint? Do they have halos floating over their heads?

Think of a someone you would say is a saint. Think of someone who's been a saint to you. Someone you've looked at and thought, "There goes a real saint." "His wife is a saint." We have saints right here, in this congregation. Some of them specialize. They'll bring you bread. Or fix your car. Or leave happy messages on your voicemail saying, "I was just thinking about you and I want you to know I hope you are having an awesome day."

Some of our saints will bring you a construction-paper card with glitter glue that's not quite dry. The best kind.

You're probably thinking, "I know who he's talking about." You think you know. Some saints are just obvious. But saints can surprise you. Because for every one you know, there are at least two or three secret saints. Saints in disguise. They blend in with the crowd, until they get called into action. They're mild-mannered.  They go by ordinary names, like, Diana Prince. Clark Kent. Linda Worden. And yet, they show up right when you need them. They'll give you a call or send a card, or just drop by at the time you need it most. Has that happened to you? Someone pops up, out of the blue, like an angel? On a day when you could really use an angel? She says, "I was just thinking about you." How do they know? They're saints.

There are saints, saints living among us. There is a saint, living within each of us. You say, "Oh, no. Not me." You say, "Oh no, preacher. I'm no saint." You say, "If they knew the real me."

Sorry to tell you. It doesn't matter what you say. Your sainthood isn't up to you. Most of the time, it's a matter of just being at the right place at the right time, and being just willing enough, to do what's needed.

Being a saint isn't about behaving saintly. It's more than just being good. It's more about behaving alertly, about making yourself available, and then simply doing what needs to be done. When someone's in need, and you show up, you'll be their saint. Saint Enough.


Let's think about today's scripture for a minute.

Psalm 23 begins, "The Lord is my shepherd." The legend is that King David, who himself had been a shepherd, wrote this psalm. He wrote it about God, but you couldn't say the name of God, so he said, "The Lord."

When we say "The Lord," who do we mean, usually? Jesus. Jesus is Lord. Is that who David meant? No. Of course not. So, without getting into the gymnastics of the Trinity, the meaning of "The Lord" changes. The meaning of "The Lord" changes depending on who's saying it and when. Think about that. What does that mean?

I could be wrong, but I think it means the face of the Lord changes, depending on who's looking at it. The presence of the Lord changes, the person of the Lord changes, depending on your point of view, depending on your point of reference, depending on your predicament.

David was a shepherd. Curiously, he saw the Lord as, what? His shepherd. Is the Lord your shepherd? Maybe. Are you a shepherd? Probably not. It's rare that our kids even see a real shepherd.

But. Are you a teacher? The Lord could be your teacher. Are you a computer expert? The Lord could be your computer expert. Are you a full-time mom? A nurse? A lawyer? A garbage collector? Who hasn't wished the Lord would just clean out all the garbage in your life? The Lord may be MY shepherd, but the Lord could be your... something else. The Lord changes.

Maybe, just maybe, the Lord could change into the shape of you.



If you get up in the morning, and you yawn and stretch, and shuffle your bed head to the mirror, and if you see not your sleepy self in that mirror, but you see Jesus, something is wrong. That's not how it works. You and I would be delusional to think that we could be The Lord.

But. You and I would be faithful to believe that The Lord could be present in us.

The Stephen Ministry has a motto. It says, "Christ caring for people through people."

"Christ caring for people through people."

When we are faithful, when we work to be as caregivers for those in need, when we become as shepherds or managers or daycare workers to people who need the Lord to be present and recognizable, here and now...

...when we show up, when we listen, when we care – we become Christ caring for people through people. We become saints. Saint Enough.

The Stephen Ministry is very careful to say that the Lord -- provides the healing. The Lord -- is with you in the valley of darkness. The Lord -- lays a table in the presence of your enemies. The Lord – is your shepherd. It's the Lord who cares, the Lord who heals, the Lord who listens. We – you and I – we saints just let him borrow our face for a little while.

Christ cares for people through people. That's why he had Apostles. That's why he gave us the church. Christ cares for people through people. As Dr. David Bartlett, my teacher and shepherd, used to say, "God takes what is good and makes it good enough." God takes you and makes you saint enough. God does this when you show up and then get out of God's way – which is not an easy thing – a reason Stephen Ministers have 50 hours of training – to help them learn to show up AND to get out of God's way so that Christ can care for people through people.



The Psalm sings such a beautiful vision of the Lord.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul.

Just lovely.

Unfortunately, there are times when more of life takes place down in the valleys of shadows. Stress. Depression. Boredom. Loneliness. Those are the times when saints are in short supply. That's why we have Stephen Ministers. That's why we have ministers with all kinds of names, all kinds of faces. That's why God gives us one another. To be the rod and the staff, to share the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when we don't have the energy, or the courage.


It's Veteran's Day weekend. There are so many soldiers who have been reluctant saints to the people around them. And nearly to a person, they all say the same thing, "I'm just a soldier, doing my job."

Florent Groberg was born in France to an American father and French mother of Algerian descent. He came to the U.S. in 1994 at the age of 11, learned English while growing up in Maryland and became determined to join the military after the September 11 terror attacks.

He became a U.S. citizen and entered basic training in 2008, and one year later he was in Afghanistan, leading a platoon that patrolled villages, fought the Taliban and supported the locals as they built their own government.

On Aug. 8, 2012, during his second deployment to Afghanistan, Groberg was personal security detachment commander of a patrol escorting military officials on foot to the compound of a provincial governor.

They began walking across a bridge, and two men on motorcycles approached from the other side.

The men "dumped their bikes and started running away. That's when we're like, 'What the heck is going on?' Their goal, which they accomplished, was to stop the patrol."

At the same time, Groberg recalled, a young man who "looked odd" came out of a building and moved toward the patrol.

"He's walking backwards," Groberg recalled. "I yelled at him, and as I got closer, he never looked at me.

"When I grabbed him by the chest I realized he was wearing a suicide vest."

The man detonated his vest as Groberg tackled him.

"I was thrown about 15, 20 feet [and] knocked out for I don't know how long," he said. "I woke and I realized I was injured. It was real and it wasn't a dream….

"[In] eight seconds, my life completely changed."

Groberg's left leg was seriously injured....

"It was a very devastating moment," he said.

"The idea of dying never really crossed my mind. The idea of doing my job was more important to me.…"

Groberg's calf muscle was half blown off, and his leg will never be the same, even after 33 surgeries. He credits medic Daniel Balderrama for saving his life, and he says he got stellar care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center when he came back to the US.

"You're surrounded by the nation's finest men who have gone through a lot worse than you ... [even] 100 surgeries…. I had my dark days … but I feel very grateful and blessed."

In 2015, Groberg was awarded the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor.

It was "very emotional and tough," Groberg said, "because you're receiving an award for the worst day of your life.

...he says he's "absolutely not" a hero.... he says, "I wear [the medal] specifically to make sure I honor my brothers and their families as a reminder of their sacrifice ... and hopefully… send a message about people who are truly the heroes."


Now, in the official rolls of the church, there will probably never be a Saint Florent Groberg. But to the people whose lives he saved, there already is and always will be. Captain Groberg was saint enough. He was, Saint Especially, on that day.

You and I probably won't – and hopefully will never have to think about – doing such things. But we can be saints of smaller things. Smaller, but still important things. And if we stay alert, and listen, and stay out of God's way, maybe someday, Christ will shine through us. Saints enough.