Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31
I am not a lot of fun at Hallowe’en. I never have been. It’s not a religious thing for me. I’ve never been a fan. My earliest memories of Hallowe’en are not memories of enjoyment. It’s never been my thing to get dressed up and go begging for candy. Maybe that’s why I don’t wear my robe in church.
Sure Hallowe’en has Christian roots. The church attempted to lay claim to the day as it did many pagan holidays early on. But, as usual, this day has been over-commercialized like any other holiday.
Did you know Hallowe’en has become the second biggest commercial day in the year? It now ranks behind Christmas. It’s bigger than Easter, Mother’s Day, Valentines Day. Bigger than them all. This boggles my mind.
For a ritual, Hallowe’en began as a ceremony to ward off evil spirits. But now it’s almost like welcoming them in! Everything has to be really scary and dripping in fake blood. Limbs need to be dismembered. Death and gore are around every corner and in every store.
As a parent, I’m not comfortable with exposing my children to this. I’m not trying to push my values on anyone, I’m just stating my position. My children enjoy Hallowe’en, so I do participate carefully and try to keep it fun for them while limiting their exposure to the parts I’m not fond of.
Everyone has their comfort level, their own personal preferences, and I’m fine with that. If you are comfortable with Hallowe’en, then be comfortable with it. As usual, I find myself in the minority, and I am quite happy to be here.
I grew up in a community where, when you woke up on Nov. 1, all you heard on the news were the stories of vandalism. The fires, what was broken, the mess that was made and the amount of money it would take to clean it all up. I don’t see why these things have to happen. There are those few troublemakers that take advantage and try and ruin it for the rest of us.
Tonight, however, I will be the one answering the door and handing out candy. In one sense it’s a bit of fun to see their excitement and how creative many of them are in their costumes. It’s a chance to welcome children and help them feel safe in our community. That’s the part of today’s Hallowe’en I enjoy and embrace.
The question I’m left with though is, what about the parts that are lost? What about the rich history of things like All Saints Day which is November 1st? This is part of our Christian history we never hear about because it is lost in the horror of Hallowe’en.
All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day (where we get our Hallow’s Eve), is an ancient Catholic practice where the church honours the saints. Later it would become a day to remember all the dead, and often people would congregate at cemeteries to pay their respects as part of the day. In our tradition, we haven’t paid a lot of attention to this particular day. However in a number of churches there is recognition of those who have departed in the last year, their own lists of saints to have left the community to be joined with the other saints who have gone before them.
Throughout the Bible we find references to the care of those who believe in the Lord. Those who believe in Jesus Christ and follow his teachings will have eternal life. If we believe, we will join the saints when our time on earth is done.
In Luke this morning we read his version of the Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who hunger now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep, for you will laugh.”
Jesus knows it’s not an easy journey. Being faithful to his teachings is difficult. But if we believe and work on our belief, growing in our faith, even the difficult times are rewarded, because we are living faithfully in the name of the Lord.
Jesus also offer’s some warnings in our readings today. He warns those who are greedy, who think of themselves first, because that is not what being faithful to God means. So watch out if you catch yourself resembling some of those warnings. Warnings we likely find a connection with in some way. So we need to be as faithful as we can in our living to avoid falling into the pit of those warnings.
Paul wrote beautifully those verses in his letter to the Ephesians we read today.
“In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.”
And he goes on to pray for Jesus to give the Ephesians wisdom and revelation from God to go out and do great things in His name, because God is the source of our strength and knowledge of good, and in the end we inherit a great reward.
Standing up for what you believe in is never an easy thing to do, especially if you are in the minority.
We’ve seen the commercialization of what were for centuries Christian holidays. Christmas, Easter, Hallowe’en, the big three are now more about making money than celebrating their initial intent. They now are seen as big boosts to the economy, and if we don’t participate and spend all we can then we are letting our countries down.
Greed has taken hold of the world around us. Greed may not have created all of the world’s problems, but it hasn’t helped at all. The rich do get richer, and the poor are certainly getting poorer.
It seems a good day to talk about the verb ‘hallow’. To hallow something is to make it sacred, make it holy. It seems to me that this is a holy day, just as each and every day is a holy day, a gift from God that we have where we can do something in His name.
Tonight, this community and streets will be transformed. We will see people of all ages dressed in various degrees of costume. I’m sure we’ll hear fireworks firing off all around our homes for hours and hours. Children will laugh. Children will cry. Things will happen, good and bad.
We can make this a holy night. Do whatever you have planned. Be as involved as you are comfortable… well at least try to stay out of trouble. But pray for our community as all unfolds tonight.
Pray for the children as they walk away from your door. Pray for their parents and their homes. Pray for those who lurk in the shadows of our streets who seek to be take advantage of the night to do less than desirable things. Pray for the police, fire fighters and EMT’s, all those on the front lines tonight. Pray for all who walk our streets that tonight may be safe and that our community may come closer together as we get to meet one another in ways not available to us the rest of the year.
Tonight may not be the holiest of nights, but it gives us lots to pray about. It allows us to at least make our little part of it hallowed as we seek to follow Jesus Christ and be part of God’s kingdom here on earth.
So do enjoy your Hallowe’en, in whatever way you spend it. Whether you are one of those who dress up and take part in the fun, or even if you are one of those who sit in the dark just waiting for it to be over. Tomorrow is another day, another chance to let God hallow us as people who struggle in our faith when we look at the world around us and how it has continually turned from His plan.
We are part of God’s plan. Let us pray as Paul did for the Ephesians. May we be granted wisdom and revelation as to what God has planned for this place in this time and may Jesus Christ be our guide.
May we be made sacred, holy. May we also be hallowed.