Dear Glen Mar friends,
Halloween is coming! You may not think of it as a particularly religious holiday and if it’s not your thing, I respect that. But I learned in seminary about where Halloween came from. I was reminded that the period between Halloween and the winter solstice in late December coincided then, as it does today, with the darkest time of the year, with shorter days and longer nights. (At least in our hemisphere). In the medieval period, dark was pretty dark, apparently, and it was a dangerous time. In our “Edison-ized” society, where light is taken for granted, we tend to forget that. But long cold nights meant for dangerous travel back then. People were eating the food they had stored since the crops were all harvested and the land was covered with ice. It was a risky and vulnerable time of year.
At this darkest time, the Church gathered its “little lights” together, its saints, for help through this “long dark night of the soul.” November 1 became All Saint’s Day, a time to honor those gone on to glory and to remind us that Jesus has won the victory over all the darkness that can surround us. Halloween, then, was a time to get out the scary things, the skeletons, and beasties, and to say, “Bring ‘em on! We are ready for your worst. There is nothing in this darkness that will prevent Christmas and the coming of the Light of the World.” After all, Dec. 25 comes on the heels of the winter solstice, as the days begin imperceptibly to get longer.
Images of Advent devotions I would write flashed before me as the professor concluded with an emphatic, “I so hate it when Christians don’t know their own history. Celebrate Halloween!”
I know there are some of us who choose not to celebrate Halloween for other reasons than these, but there is something powerful about a Church that can endure the scariest and darkest of times. That’s why I am glad to give out candy in our house—that’s why I choose to celebrate Halloween. Because “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5 (NRSV).
If YOU would like to wear your (non-scary) costume to church on Halloween, you are very welcome to do so!
And…as we look toward the coming of the Light of the World, don’t forget to email to us your pictures of loved ones who have gone to be with the Lord since last All Saint’s Day by Tuesday Nov. 2.
And…it’s time to sign up to help with our Journey to Bethlehem! Sign up here!
See You In Church,