Communion of the Saints Part 2
The communion of saints is diachronic. Not only do we commune with the saints in China and England and South America, but commune with them through time. The same Spirit that unites peoples of different places, unites peoples of different eras. This is manifestly true by virtue of time zones, but the writer of Hebrews goes further, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect” (12:22-23). Our communion with the saints is with the saints who are presently alive and with those saints who have died in the faith. In fact this reality is the grounds for the exhortation at the beginning of the chapter to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”. Why are we to run this race with patience? Because “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”. Who are those witnesses? They are all of the saints that have died in the faith, many of whom are mentioned by name or deed in Chapter 11.
For this reason, following the historic church, it is proper for the deeds and saints of the past to be remembered in stories, songs, and pictures. In these ways, particularly as they appear in the Church building, we are reminded constantly of that cloud of witnesses of which we are a part. Furthermore, remembering particular saints on particular days through songs, prayers, and other traditions is also a fitting reminder of the communion we have with all of the saints of God.
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