Monday, November 6, 2017

All Saints and Harry Potter a Saint

All Saints, 2017--the appointed scripture can be found at


(Harry Amongst the Great Cloud of Witnesses*)

On the Saturday before Halloween, I found myself at the grocery store picking up the ingredients for welsh rarebit and butter-beer milkshakes in anticipation of a long-awaited feast day in our home—the feast of the first viewing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Repeatedly, throughout the movie, my 7-year-old pointed out the moments in which Harry breaks a rule in order to do the right thing.

This observation was a big one for my rule following kid, and I was delighted that he was able to see that doing the right thing is more complicated than a simple right/wrong; yes/no; good/bad moment.

Likewise, our own identities are more complicated than any sort of artificial binary of good and bad; righteous and unrighteous; sinner and saint.

And, this is part of what is so appealing about the Harry Potter series—a series in which the heroes and the villains, both, are neither entirely good or entirely evil. In fact, Harry himself epitomizes the complex reality that none of us are entirely good. Picture the scene, as the children await their turn under the sorting hat—the magical haberdashery that sorts children into their dorms…

“Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There’s talent, oh my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s interesting. . .  So where shall I put you?”

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you’re sure — better be GRYFFINDOR!”

It’s all there…the potential for good and the potential for evil. It’s all there…our sinfulness and our blessedness. It’s all there. In Harry, in us...and in the saints.

And, this is important, because when we can recognize the imperfection of the saints—we can see in ourselves sainthood. To be a saint is not impossible, because to be a saint is to accept the possibility of God’s all-encompassing love and strive to make it so in the here and the now.

So, on this All Saints, I find myself marveling at the imperfection of the saints—the saints that came before us, the saints in the here and the now, and the saints that will be. They were not perfect, nor even practically perfect—just think of Saint Peter! The saints are human. Human beings that love God and follow Jesus wherever Jesus may lead. Human beings who are God’s children and, as Paul says, human beings who do not yet know the fullness of what will be revealed.  

All of this means that the saints can be us—sinners and saints, one and the same.  That we, in loving God and following Jesus, have in our very being the power and potential for living a life which bears witness to God’s love for all of us.

And, while we may not yet know where God will call us nor what will be revealed—what we do know is that, while we wait, we can support each other in the work of transformation. Working towards unity, mercy, and justice—working to create that vision described in Revelation we heard today, a vision in which all tribes, nations and languages gather in unity in the new creation. A vision where there is neither hunger or thirst, and where sorrow and despair are no more.

A vision of a world in which the beatitudes are treated as more than a check-list, and in which the poor, the grieving, the peaceful, the gentle, and the persecuted, are honored rather than scorned. A world in which power is employed as a means of mercy.

A world which can be because we are. We are, we are the sinners and saints in the here and the now, called to strive for a kingdom greater than ours, a world better than ours, a life made new and a love made fully known. We, sinners and saints all the same, we can do this—we can do this with God’s help and with each other.

Supporting each other and trusting in God that we might obtain, “the full stature of Christ”.

The full stature of Christ.

When I teach baptismal preparation classes. I always emphasize that the full stature of Christ is not prescriptive or even descriptive. What it is, is committing to support the individual being baptized so that they can become the person that God intends them to be. Not who we intend them to be—but who God intends them to be.

Which brings me back to Harry Potter.  

Harry, the hero of the narrative, is identified by the sorting hat as having the potential to succeed in both great evil and great good. It’s all there—but, because of the love, the support, the gifts (both great and small), the friendships, the mentors—all of these things and all those that travel the way with him, he is able to become all that anyone could have hoped.

And, in this, he doesn’t save anyone, or even himself, alone. He does it with the support, the love and the witness of those around him—both the living and the dead. Those who went before him, and those who are to come, are real participants in the narrative—and, with that, the communion of saints becomes central to the hero’s quest in a fictional series that has fueled the imaginations of a generation.

Now, for those of you wondering how I’ve managed to read all of this into a children’s fantasy series…it’s important to note that the author of Harry Potter is an Anglican steeped in the traditions of the church. And, so by knowing our traditions and knowing scripture, I can place Harry—fictional as he may be—amongst the saints.

Imperfect, human, saints.

Like you. Like me.

Like August, Clara, Grace and Olivia who are about to be baptized

Like Harry…Fully human. Fully capable of being part of the inbreaking of all that God has promised.


*If you are familiar with the Harry Potter series, I encourage you to read the catechism found in The Book of Common Prayer and then take a look at the Harry Potter series with a fresh eye!

And, if you are a fan of buzzfeed quizzes--sort yourself into a Hogwarts' house here!

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