I don’t know how you feel, but for me one of the worst days of the year is the day that Daylight Savings Time ends, because turning the clock back on Saturday means that it will be dark around 5:00 p.m. or so on Sunday. Even more depressing, there will be a day in the future when the sun sets over Boston at 4:11p.m. Lord, have mercy.
This year we will turn our clocks back on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 1, which is All Saints’ Day, and the next day we will observe All Saints’ Sunday. We Presbyterians do not have “capital S” saints, as other churches do, meaning we don’t have faithful persons from the past who have been elevated to a higher spiritual status than “ordinary” Presbyterians. That doesn’t mean you won’t find Presbyterian Churches named “Saint Andrew Presbyterian” because you will find many of them, especially where Scottish heritage is strong. Google “St. Patrick Presbyterian Church” and you’ll get the same result. Believe it or not, you can also find “Saint Andrew Baptist Church”. While we may not revere or pray to those Saints, we often recognize their place in our larger Christian heritage.
Full disclosure: I do have some Catholic DNA, so among my favorite Saints are Patrick, Francis of Assisi, St. Jude (patron Saint of lost causes), St. Nicholas (the REAL St. Nick) and St. Joseph the Worker (my union roots are showing). I’m also partial to the sainthood candidacy of Rose Hawthorne, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s daughter, who founded the “Hawthorne Dominicans”, whose hospice gave my father such comfort and peace in his final weeks.
When Presbyterians speak of saints, we’re usually speaking of the “communion of saints”, that “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us especially when we celebrate Communion. When Paul wrote his letters to churches, he sometimes addresses them to individuals, but also to “all the saints”, meaning all the believers, all the Christians in a given location.
On All Saints’ Sunday, we will take some special moments to remember the “saints” in our lives who have passed away over the past year. And we will do that by lighting candles as worshipers offer the names of the “saints” dear to them who have passed on.
It will get darker each Sunday, but throughout November we’ll recall that Jesus said “I am the light of the world. The people who follow me will not walk in darkness, but they will have the light of life.” And at the end of the month, Nov. 30, we observe the First Sunday in Advent, lighting the first candle in the Advent wreath, remembering that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The Peace of the Lord be with you,