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We’re Surrounded

October 31, 2018

Don Saliers is one of my heroes.

He’s one of my all-time favorite teachers. And speakers. And preachers. And pastors.He was my Faculty Advisor at Emory University in Atlanta. We’ve kept in touch over the years.

Not long ago I went to a Five Day Academy for Spiritual Renewal sponsored by The Upper Room. He was one of two leaders. He was the primary reason I chose this particular event. It was even better than I could have imagined.

One of Don’s teaching techniques is to quote someone from the past, like maybe John Wesley. Then he immediately glances to the right or left and says in this example, “Thank you, John Wesley!”

It really caught some people off guard the first couple of times he did that in presentations at the Five Day Academy. They looked up from their notes, glanced at one another, and a few even raised their eyebrows.

I’d been so used to it from my graduate school days with him that I’d forgotten it. I found it to be refreshing.

It wasn’t until recently — very recently — that I connected Don’s crediting someone in that manner to what we celebrate this week on The Church Calendar.

Tomorrow is All Saints’ Day, when we recognize those who have gone on before us. Traditionally this has included a Reading of The Roll of The Dead, i.e., those members of this particular local church who have died in the past year. I have usually preached from Hebrews 12,

We are surrounded

by a great a cloud of witnesses 

Another version says,


Do you see what this means,

all these pioneers who blazed the way,

all these veterans cheering us on? 


This All Saints’ Day, let’s give thanks for those real life saints you and I have known and can name.

And then join me in a reconsideration of Don’s turning to thank those we can’t see standing with him.

And with us.

It suddenly seems Scriptural.





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