Some of you may have heard me talk about how “Halloween” is actually a religious holiday – and it is!
The “Hallowed Evening” is the night before “All Saints’ Day” on November 1, when we remember those of our faith who have gone on to be with the Lord in the previous year. This was a time of solemnity and remembrance of those who have been saints in our lives and have given us strength. It was instituted by Pope Gregory III in the 8th century. Before this time the Celts had a ceremony of Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”) that was their New Year. It marked the end of the harvest season, and the Druids/Celts believed that the times of darkness (winter) were coming upon them. They thought that the boundaries between life and death were thin during this time of the year, so they took up the practice of disguising themselves at night so that the spirits of the dead would not recognize them.
Pope Gregory saw an opportunity to teach the reality of our faith, that those who have died are not wandering the earth but are safe with Christ. He set up All Saints’ Day and Halloween as Christian celebrations of God conquering death. We have nothing to fear from the dead; we are victors in Christ!
So how did Halloween take on such a dark and materialistic flavor? The materialism doesn’t surprise us – look at what has happened to Christmas and Easter! As long as people keep putting their trust in money and material things, they will try to make money out of whatever they can. (There will be a sermon coming up soon about how the gifts we give do or do not honor the Prince of Peace on His birthday!)
The continued expressions of darkness (ghosts, demons, blood, horror) are remnants from the old festivals. I see this not as a problem but an opportunity – people still need to know that Christ is stronger than death! And we can offer them the truth through our speaking words of hope to them!
At our Scout “Trunk or Treat” festival last Wednesday we had a good number of our church families come to support the Scout troop and the Cub Pack, and I was able to share with the group the story of All Saints’ Day. I pray that they heard something that piqued their interest in learning more about the faith. I also invited quite a few people to worship with us on Sunday morning! (Hey! We might need to start Sunday School again!)
One other thing that occurred – some of the children from our neighborhood were walking by, and were looking longingly at our party but were hesitant to join in. But when they saw me there, they recognized me from our chapel service at New Horizons and they immediately came over! I had wondered if I was doing any good with my efforts once a week at New Horizons, and evidently God was planting some seeds so that this moment could happen! God is good!
I encourage you, as Paul said to his friends in Galatia – 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Peace to you all –