Okay, I know I'm a day early for Halloween yet since I leave tomorrow on pass for four days thought I would get this blog written today. And since I will be at the Saints game in New Orleans tomorrow night felt it was even more appropriate.
Too often we forget the history behind events and as a culture tend to have very short memories, to our discredit. I would say many people, Christians especially, do not understand the connection we have with Halloween. Since it has become a secular celebration the signification is lost. All Hallow's Eve [Halloween] actually is closely connected with the Christian church's All Saint's Day (November 1st) and All Soul's Day (November 2nd) As Wikipedia points out, "The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day [or All Saint's Day]" It is also believed that "Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas [aka All Saints Day] receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day."
So this year as we take our kids out on beggar's night (whenever that is scheduled for in your community) remember that there is significance behind what is going on. We stand as a Christian community, especially on All Saint's day, on the legacy that has been left by the faithful saint's who have gone before us. The church remembers and celebrates the many dedicated believers that often gave up their lives so that we would know the truth of the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus which is offered to us through his death and resurrection. Yet the sad state is many times we forget that foundation passed down to us and focus only on our own experience, to our own spiritual detriment. God desires us to stand solidly on sound scriptural teaching, seeking His truth not our own desires; so that when we come face to face with Him, we can hear the words 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' (Matthew 25:23)
In the book of Hebrew the writer tells us: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1) In my mind that is what All Souls Day helps us to remember; that we are surrounded by those that have gone before. They are a witness to us in 2010 as to the desire of God for us, to know Him, to follow Him, to serve Him. Don't let our minds be so shortsighted that we are unable to throw off the deceptions of our secular society that we miss the mark and lose our way.
In the same way you all are being that cloud of witnesses to myself and to my soldiers. I've attached a picture of my office that shows what I mean. All the cards, emails, phone calls and care packages continually remind us that we are not in this alone. There is a community that is faithfully uplifting us in prayer and standing behind us that we might not be hindered but able to run this race that God has called us to at this time.
God bless you all.