Tonight I got a call from a man whose voice I did not recognize. The Caller ID said he was calling from somewhere in Ohio, but I didn't recognize the number or the location. "Is this Saint Ray?" I hesitated for a moment and then said yes. "Do you know who this is?" Having no idea, I suggested that it was President Bush who has never called me but there's always a first time for everything. The deep voice chuckled and said he was calling from Florida. Then it hit me. I knew who it was, I could see his face, but I couldn't remember his name. "I have the same name as the co-founder down here," he said. He was talking about Harry Bollback, co-founder (with Jack Wyrtzen) of Word of Life. So I knew it was Harry. For several years Harry and his wife would come to the Tampa airport to pick me up when I came down to speak at Word of Life Florida.
Harry said that Tom Phillips, the director of Word of Life Florida, said that I had mentioned him in one of my books. That stumped me. Finally I figured it it had to be Credo, my book on the Apostles' Creed. In the chapter where I discuss the phrase "the communion of saints," I discussed my friend, Saint Harry. We chatted for a while, got caught up a bit, and wished each other a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. God willing, we'll see Saint Harry and his wife when we go to Word of Life Florida in February. Here's the passage when I mention him:
The word "saints" simply means "holy ones." In the New Testament saint is a synonym for Christian or believer. The apostle Paul used the word saints in several of his letters to describe all believers. He wrote to the saints in Rome and to the saints in Corinth and to the saints in Ephesus and to the saints in Philippi. To many of us saint refers to an extraordinary Christian, but the New Testament never uses the word that way.
I preach once a year at Word of Life Conference Center in Hudson, Florida. For the last few years the same man has either picked us up or taken us back to the airport. I can't remember his name, but I can never forget him because he always greets me the same way: "Hello, saint!" He greets everyone that way. And he is entirely biblical in his use of the term because we are all saints of God. It is perfectly proper to speak of Saint Jane or Saint Jeff or Saint Jose or Saint Don or Saint Fred. If you know Jesus, you are a true saint of God.
Even thought I couldn't remember his name, I can't forget his face or his greeting. With his phone call tonight, Saint Harry put a smile on my face and truly lived up to his name.