I’m excited to have this opportunity to remind you that Halloween or as I call it, All Hallows’ Eve, is just around the corner, and I plan on celebrating it with you, my All Saints family. For those who are new to All Saints or who would like a refresher, I have included a short reflection on what All Hallows’ Eve means for us as All Saints Cathedral and as Christians.
Halloween is a new-ish way of saying All Hallows’ Eve or the Eve of All Saints Day. It is a vigil that Christians keep before the actual feast day of All Saints. All Saints Day (hopefully that sounds familiar) is the celebration of our Christian belief in the Communion of the Saints. Or to put it a slightly different way, the belief that all Christians, both living and dead, are in fact Alive in Christ and are One Body, family, or people.
That’s obviously not what most of us think of when we think of Halloween. For most of our neighbors and friends, both believing and unbelieving, Halloween is a celebration of all things horrific, grotesque, twisted, and evil. In a word it is a celebration of death.
This makes sense in way. The popular version of All Hallows’ Eve is the natural result of trying to keep the form of a spiritual celebration without knowing or believing in the spiritual substance behind it. As with all holidays that the world attempts to hold onto without also affirming the gospel of Jesus Christ, their celebrations become twisted, empty, and even destructive shadows of themselves. Christmas becomes a commercial celebration of gifts we can’t afford. Thanksgiving, a celebration of overeating. Easter is about sickeningly sweet candy and pastel colors that most of us avoid the rest of the year (my apologies to those who love pastels). The interesting thing about these secular versions is they seem fairly innocuous. Shallow versions of the real thing, yes. But not blatant contradictions to the Gospel. Halloween is unique in this way.
Most websites you visit will say that All Saints Day is a celebration of the dead. This is of course only partially accurate (not all saints are dead), and without an understanding of what death means for Christians it will lead you into all kinds of bad places. Halloween does have something to do with the dead. And it is how we think about death that we see the difference between the hearts of those who have the hope of Christ and those who do not.
Fear of death, they say, leads us to need horror. It’s cathartic. We face our worst fears, dress up in them, decorate our walls with them, go to places that will enact them for us, we all have a good fright, then a good laugh at our fright, and feel much better. After all, weren’t we silly to be so afraid? Death isn’t outside our door. Cruelty, horror, and wickedness aren’t out to get us. Or are they? The fact is that after the laughs, some people can’t help but remember that cruelty, horror, and wickedness are not unknown in our world. Fear of death is no easy thing to shake. And so, when worldly minds look to celebrate the Feast of All Saints; a day that unavoidably makes us think of death, they turn to images of horror and violence. Because that is what death is for them. But that isn’t the only way to respond to death.
For the Christian, death is in fact a horror. It is natural, but only because it is a natural result of sin. We believe that death is not what we were made for. It is an affront to our very souls. But we believe that it has been overcome. We believe that Jesus has overcome sin and death. By his death, he destroyed death. By his resurrection he makes us alive forever more. By faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God makes us ALIVE and call us his holy (or saintly, or hallowed) people.
Because of this gift of life in Christ Jesus, we believe that those saints who have died a mortal death have passed beyond the grip of death. They are in fact more alive than we are because they are before the face of Life Himself. We might say they are the glorified saints. These glorified saints are now before the face of God, worshiping with and praying for those of us who live on in the flesh.
Therefore, All Saints Day is not so much a celebration of the dead. It is at its heart, a celebration of the living. It is a celebration of God’s free gift of Eternal Life and the Joy of a Glorious identity that smashes through all barriers of material, space, time, gender, and ethnicity. We are One Living and Holy people in Christ, made so as a gift by faith in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. AMEN! AMEN! Let all God’s Saints in heaven and earth say, AMEN!
This year on All Hallows’ Eve, we will be celebrating this Good News with a low-key time of enjoying treats, handing out candy, playing some festival type games, greeting those who are out and about for Trick-or-Treating, and closing with an All Hallows’ Evensong. I invite you to take part in this celebration by either volunteering to help or by joining us throughout the evening. This is a unique opportunity where our identity is being celebrated by our neighbors, and we can invite them to experience the joy we have in being the redeemed people of God. If you would like to participate in or support this joyful celebration you can:
Attend, and invite friends and neighbors.
Come dressed as a saint, maybe you have a favorite. Some of us did this a couple of years ago and it was a lot of fun and deepened our love for this Great Cloud of Witnesses. If needed, we can help you research a saint and get a costume pulled together. *Note: You do not have to dress up as a saint to attend. It is recommended but not necessary.
Donate candy. Bins for candy will be in the Parish Hall starting Sept. 30th.
Run a game booth. If mingling and making small talk just isn’t your thing, then you might enjoy this. The games will be provided for you and we will train you.
Help set up on Sunday, Oct. 28th or earlier in the day on Oct. 31st. We need some light decorating done as well.
Help with food. We need baked goods and other treats to share. We need volunteers to help serve in the kitchen. Please sign up on the kiosk to help in this area.
Check out the kiosk at church for signup sheets. If you have questions or suggestions regarding this event, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.