A Misunderstood Holiday 

I’m sorry that Halloween has given way to “fall festivals” for fear of ghosts and devils. In all my years of Trick-Or-Treat I have never encountered devil worship or anything even close. Mostly it is just an evening of neighborhood fun.

More importantly Halloween has deep religious roots, having begun as “All Hallows Eve,” the night before All Saints Day. In this pagan ritual the spirits of the dead came from the graves, threatening to on their former abodes and families. The gift of sweet treats warded off these visitors from the other side. The superstitious trick-or-treat of the graveyard spirits gave way to a celebration of the Church in its broadest perspective.

All Saints Day celebrates the lives of the Saints of God who have gone before us. These are the people who make up a great River that flows to God. These are the people who have influenced us on a grand scale and have shaped our lives in a mighty way. Many of us here today can look around us can remember those mighty Saints with fondness and thanksgiving. When we think about those who preceded us we are met with strange and uncomfortable stirrings within our hearts. My first pastoral call was to the historic Park Street Church on the Boston Common. My office featured a full width picture window overlooking the famous Old Granary Burying Ground that featured the graves of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, James Otis, Elizabeth Foster (Mother) Goose, victims of the Boston Massacre and many other Revolutionary war heroes.

I always had special feelings when I looked out my window – a spiritual oneness with great people and a deep sense of reverence. Likewise, we will gather for worship on Sunday to celebrate Holy Communion. We will feel the presence of God’s Saints going back to the beginning of time. As we receive the Bread and Wine we know that we are part of a great Continuity, one that spans time and eternity. Don’t be afraid of Halloween – what comes next is hopeful and inspiring!Halloween has given way to “fall festivals” for fear of ghosts and devils. In all my years of Trick-Or-Treat I have never encountered devil worship or anything even close. Mostly it is just an evening of neighborhoodfun.

More importantly Halloween has deep religious roots, having begun as “All Hallows Eve,” the night before All Saints Day. In this pagan ritual the spirits of the dead came from the graves, threatening to on their former abodes and families. The gift of sweet treats warded off these visitors from the other side. The superstitious trick-or-treat of the graveyard spirits gave way to a celebration of the Church in its broadest perspective.

All Saints Day celebrates the lives of the Saints of God who have gone before us. These are the people who make up a great River that flows to God. These are the people who have influenced us on a grand scale and have shaped our lives in a mighty way. Many of us here today can look around us can remember those mighty Saints with fondness and thanksgiving. When we think about those who preceded us we are met with strange and uncomfortable stirrings within our hearts. My first pastoral call was to the historic Park Street Church on the Boston Common. My office featured a full width picture window overlooking the famous Old Granary Burying Ground that featured the graves of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, James Otis, Elizabeth Foster (Mother) Goose, victims of the Boston Massacre and many other Revolutionary war heroes.

I always had special feelings when I looked out my window – a spiritual oneness with great people and a deep sense of reverence. Likewise, when we gather for worship on Sunday – especially when we celebrate Holy Communion – we feel the presence of God’s saints going all the way back to the beginning of time. I hope you will be with us on Sunday, and I hope that as you receive the Bread and Wine you will know that you are part of a great Continuity, one that spans time and eternity. Don’t be afraid of Halloween – what comes next is hopeful and inspiring!