At prayer in coming days, let’s keep some paper close at hand. Let’s begin writing the names of the saints who shared the holy work of forming us into the disciple of Jesus we are today. We might write these names in a time line or in the swirling circles of a faith journey as we remember the saints who shaped us in our childhood and in our youth and in each season of our adult years.
We might write the names of pastors or Sunday School teachers. Vacation Bible School volunteers or counselors at church camp or youth group leaders. Parents or grandparents or a favorite aunt or uncle, our spouses or our children. Teachers, coaches, employers, co-workers, friends.
Our list might include saints we’ve known for a long while and a saint or two we knew only for a short time in a random, life-changing encounter. We might include the names of saints we’ve never met. Authors or artists or heroes whose lives shaped ours into clearer, stronger discipleship.
As we write each name, as we read them again and over again, we might take time to reflect on just what it was that each of these saints did to help form us into disciples of Jesus. We’ll surely thank God for the gifts that flowed from God, through these saints, into our lives.
And then, another page. Let’s write the names of those whom we have helped to shape into disciples of Jesus. We’ll likely be writing names from our congregations, from our families, from school and work and communities. We might see fewer names here because, of course, we have each shaped many disciples without ever knowing it.
And then, a last page. This one could be a sticky-note or a 3 x 5 card or even something entered as a digital reminder. The names we gathered of saints who shaped us surely include some who had no idea they were shaping us, who didn’t start their days with any intention of shaping us, who might even be very surprised to know they were on our list of soul-shaping saints. May we remember that the holy work of faith formation is a calling for each of us. May we remember that what we decide to do today, what we decide to say today, the time we decide to give, the listening and the encouragement we decide to share today … all these choices and more are offerings for the Spirit’s use in calling, enriching, sustaining the members of the body of Christ.
We might write on this last reminder page: shaped, being shaped, shaping. We thank God for saints who’ve shaped us. We stretch to remain open to the shaping hand of God. We watch and listen (asking God for plenty of zeal and plenty of humility) for those who might in some way be shaped by our witness.
Jonna Jensen, Associate Conference Minister for Eastern Iowa