Despite all the Lutheran talk about grace, we still tend to think about scales and to consider our good deeds as pebbles and our bad ones as boulders.
We fear—and perhaps even believe—that our misdeeds are actually very much stacked against us.
Martin Luther grasped this existential fear about sinfulness. He knew it in his bones. Ultimately, he wrestled with it, like Jacob with the angel.
Yet even though (or perhaps because?) the struggle bruised him, Luther morphed his fear into a theological revolution. We are sinful, he determined, and we are also bestowed with grace by which we as sinners are transformed into saints. He even came up with a Latin phrase for it: simul iustus et peccator.
All Saints Day is an occasion to recall that Luther was right: We have spots, we have wrinkles…and we are holy.
This excerpt is from “Saints and Sinners, Can we Believe We are Both?” by Rev. Anna Madsen in the November 2020 Gather Magazine. Today is All Saints Day.
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