It is not uncommon to hear some ministers demean the celebration of Halloween. The typical critique involves claiming the holiday has pagan or Satanic origins. So that you can feel more comfortable sending your goblins out to collect gobs of candy, allow me to share the origins of Halloween…
The Roman Catholic Church made it a practice to celebrate the lives of particular saints on particular days. As the number of saints grew, every saint could not be assigned an exclusive day. In AD 610, Pope Bonafice IV had the foresight to deal with this dilemma. He proclaimed May 13 as All Martyrs Day. In AD 835, this celebration was moved to November 1 and officially named All Saints Day. The evening before All Saints Day is called All Hallows Eve or later, Halloween. Many in the church considered their deceased loved ones to be saints even though these ‘common folk’ were not recognized by the church. To honor these family members and friends, families would parade to the local cemetery on All Hallows Eve. Candles were placed on porches to light the way (jack-o-lanterns). To make this procession more enjoyable for the children, neighbors would pass out candy or small gifts as they passed by (trick or treating). By AD 1000, the practice of honoring our personal saints became so popular, November 2 was named All Souls Day.
This Sunday, we will celebrate All Saints/Souls Day during our morning worship service. We will read the names of our members who have died in the past year, toll a bell in their honor, and offer prayers of thanksgiving for their lives. In addition, we’re planning a procession to Springwood Cemetery! We’re inviting our congregants to eat lunch downtown after worship, meet at the Hyatt Plaza (NOMA Square) at 1:30pm, and walk together to Lula Whilden’s grave at Springwood Cemetery. We will hold a brief service of remembrance at 2:00pm to honor God’s work in her life. Feel free to make alternate meal plans and meet us at Hyatt Plaza at 1:30pm or at the graveside at 2:00pm.
I hope these words and Sunday’s events help you embrace the holiness of this celebrative and fun season.