Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1b

Isn’t “ordinary saint” an oxymoron? How can an ordinary person ever be described as a saint? A saint, according to the dictionary, is a person of exceptional holiness of life; a person of great holiness, virtue, or benevolence. That seems quite the opposite of ordinary, which is defined as of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional. Maybe that’s the point. Jesus is the only one who was human, but without sin.

Hebrews 12: 1-2 tells us “So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.” (CEB) 

Ah, that great cloud of witnesses! My first pastor, who allowed my 13-year-old self to choose the hymns and play them for Wednesday night services, opening the door for a lifetime of joy in church music; my elderly friends in the choir at another Presbyterian church, who taught me to sing alto with confidence and who welcomed my two small children on Sunday mornings; the coworker who invited me to her church when I was searching for a community of faith; the friends—so many friends—who held me up and supported me through the turmoil of divorce, and then remained my friends when joy returned to my life. All of these individuals are perfectly ordinary people—and they are also saints who urge us to run the race with perseverance.  I thank God for all ordinary saints, who support us in our race in this life, who help us look to Jesus in faith and follow in his steps.

Jan Ellis

About the Contributor

Jan has been at Nazareth for 35 years, and is currently serving her third year as Clerk of Session. She enjoys singing in the choir, serving on Session, and being part of the Nazareth community of saints.