Lights of Memory and Hope
In the Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago, we celebrate the Reformation at the end of October, and All Saints Day at the beginning of November. These commemorations have powerful meaning and lasting relevance for our pandemic era.
Reformation is institutional repentance and ecclesiastical revolution. The sixteenth century Reformation initiated the liberation of church life from the fetters of authoritarianism. Martin Luther and John Calvin are well-known names to us. The wonderful work of Margarete de Navarre, Marie Dentiere, Argula von Grumbach, Olympia Maratha, and Jeanne de Abrecht should also be cherished and celebrated.
The Reformation is celebrated by special worship events. Before the pandemic, our national conventions and national youth conventions, held at the end of October, drew thousands who gathered to rejoice together and share in the vision and mission of the Church.
All Saints Day is widely celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago. We visit the cemeteries where our loved ones are buried and light candles on their graves or light candles at home. The graves of missionaries and clergy are also tended with care by parishioners who have never met them. Filled with bittersweet memories, we are strengthened with the knowledge that there are people known and unknown to us whose lives, learning, love, and laughter bless us with a lasting legacy of truth and justice.
These lights are a mark both of memory and of hope; memory of the past with gratitude and love, and hope because heritage gives us hope by illuminating our path.
God works through people in history. We remember the pioneers of the sixteenth century Reformation. They were scholarly theologians who courageously studied, fervently wrote and enthusiastically taught and encouraged many people to reform the Church so that it would truly be the body of Christ. We too are making history by who we are and what we do now.
Reformation and All Saints Day signal to us in whatever context and culture we may find ourselves:
- The twilight of one age is the dawning of another. We are the dawn of today and shall be the twilight of tomorrow but our light will shine in the souls of those yet to come.
- We are not alone. Cross-cultural, cross-generational, cross-everything show us that the cross of Christ is always full of grace and power. People of truth flourish in all times and places.
- God calls from tomorrow. The messages of the Reformation and All Saints Day summon us to be alert to the moving inspiration of the Spirit to reform whatever is deformed in us, our Churches, and our world.
Sometimes in our journeys, we stumble and fall. Sometimes we hesitate at intersections, unsure where to go. The COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing economic misery plunge us into uncertainty. Where are we going as individuals, churches and nations? The teachings imparted by words and lives shine across the generations and the stories of past struggles fill us with future strength. When we think of Reformation and All Saints Day, we recognize and accept that we are surrounded by an assembly of witnesses who cheer us on and cheer us up as we run the race of life.
—Adrian D. E. Sieunarine
St. Andrew's Theological College
St. Andrew's Theological College