It’s October! The leaves are falling, the temperatures are dropping, and the colors of our lives are fading from bright green grasses, blue skies, and white hot sun to the golds, browns, oranges, and yellows of leaves, ciders, fall sports, and warm sweaters.
When this time of the year rolls around, I often get asked about Halloween and whether it’s “Christian” to celebrate such a macabre holiday. And my answer is yes, Halloween is just fine for Christians to enjoy. Especially because of its historical connection to All Saints’ Day.
Originally, the end of October was a special time in pre-Christian religious understanding, when the veil between the living world and the spiritual world is “thin” and the spirits of the dead are more likely to be able to communicate with the living. Eventually, Christians adapted this spooky time to their belief in eternal life through Christ and called it “All Hollows’ Eve”, which literally means “The evening before All Hollows’ Day” or “All Saints’ Day”; the day on which all the Saints are named as holy (hollowed). In some Christian traditions, a vigil of prayer is conducted on All Hollow’s Eve to prepare for All Saints Day. Thus, the Christian who is focused on God can enjoy Halloween’s spooky fall fun as an occasion to remember and celebrate that, in Christ, death is ultimately defeated and all of God’s beloved children live eternally.
If you haven’t seen the Disney movie, “Coco”, I invite you to check it out. It centers around the Mexican interpretation of these two holidays, Dia de los Muertos, meaning “the day of the dead”. It is a day when people set up altars (“ofrendas”) to honor their loved ones who have died and include all kinds of things they liked. They eat the foods their loved ones liked to eat, play music they liked, and tell stories about them so that their memories will live on and, in their hearts, they will never fully die.
This year, our church is once again partnering with Peace United Methodist Church to host a “Trunk-or-Treat” on Sunday, October 30. It will be a wonderful way to show our generosity and fun-loving care to our neighbors.
On All Saints Day, which Gethsemane will celebrate on the following Sunday, November 8, we will be honoring those members of our church community who have died in the past year by saying their names out loud. Everyone will be invited to come to the altar and light a candle in memory of someone they love who has died, whether this year or many years ago. In this way, we honor them and give thanks to God for their presence in our lives. And we praise God for the promise and hope of the resurrection that assures us that they are united with Christ in a resurrection like his.
Your sister in Christ,