This may have been my favorite holiday as a child. I would start thinking about “what I would be” months in advance. I didn’t mind the candy, but there was something else that appealed to me more. Maybe something about the thrill of fright combined with the comfort of knowing it was all pretend.
It was also a favorite holiday of our three children. And I must admit, we got into it as parents as well. Tonight I will be all alone at home handing out the trick-or-treat candy (we get a lot of visitors!) while Helen is at her weekly Master Chorale rehearsal. It will be 5 pm to 8 pm and then the lights will go out. Since I’m by myself, I get to make the rules.
There is a Christian holiday connected to Halloween. The word “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows Eve”, which means the night before “All Saints Day”.
In the Catholic tradition (which means our tradition, because all Christians were originally Catholics) the great saints of the church were remembered not on the day they were born into this life, but the day they were born into the life to come. That is, on the day they died.
It wasn’t long before most every day of the year was the day of some saint’s death — they were running out of days — thus the creation of a day “for all the saints”. And by saints we don’t mean just people like Mother Teresa who lived exemplary Christian lives. We mean all those for whom Jesus was Lord. This includes a lot of ordinary Christians.
But of course no one is “ordinary”. Everyone is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece created by God. And everyone’s death is an occasion for both sadness and celebration. Sadness, obviously, because they are so missed. But also celebration for the lives they lived and for the blessings they brought into the lives of others, including our own.
We will be lighting candles this Sunday, November 6, for the “saints” related to our church since we last observed “All Saints Day”. We always send special invitations to family members to come to church that day. It’s never a short list. We have lost some wonderful people this year. But as Christians we also know that we never really “lose” them. They belong to God and therefore they belong to us, forever.
In Christ, John