All Hallows Eve

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

Once again we are celebrating Halloween. Halloween holds many childhood memories for many of us here today. The fun of dressing up in costumes and going out into the neighborhood and teasing the folks to give a treat or be tricked. Then there were the Halloween parties where we would all gather together and play games with our friends. Dunking for apples in the water barrel or pinning the tail on the donkey and all sorts of fun festivities. As I have grown older I have become less enthused about the holiday of Halloween. It somehow over the years has become a time of evil shenanigans which have grown to become more and more evil over the passing years. It has become a manifestation of the failing of our society to have a respect for the personal right of people, property, and personhood. It is no longer costumes of Cinderella and the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle, but vampires, Zombies and all sorts of evil creatures of a wicked imagination. Today it has not become a chance for a child’s imagination to present themselves as a favored cartoon character but as a devilish demon of sorts. Halloween has become a day to glorify what is evil.

Many today do not even know from where or why this day is celebrated. Halloween is the eve before “All Saint Day.” The word Halloween is a shortening of the phrase “All Hallows Eve” which is the evening before “All Saints Day.” If people today celebrated All Hallows Eve in the perspective of what it is then it would be a time for families to gather and deepen their faith in God their Creator.

Halloween finds its roots in the ancient Celtic tribes of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Brittany. It was an evening that they believed that the souls of the dead would return to pass among the living and scare away the evil spirits. The people of the day would wear masks and mingle around bonfires and fellowship together in good fun. At that time the festival was called Samhain.

The name for this festival changed in the year 835 AD. Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for the martyrs from May 1th to November 1st thus making October 31st All Hallows Eve. It was a holy day much like Christmas Eve is today, as it was the eve before All Saints Day.

The purpose of All Saints Day is to remember the Saints that have died and gone on to be with the Lord. Thus it has become a celebration of the “Communion of the Saints.” I find this very interesting as we see this term in the Apostles Creed which I attest to. “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” But the term “Communion of the Saints” causes controversies in the Church in general.

I am not going to make an argument for the controversies but I will say this the Catholic Church of today is not the Holy Catholic Church. The Holy Catholic Church is the Church in the teachings of the Apostles, the Church of Jesus Christ. I do not believe in purgatory and I do not believe that we can commune with the Saints that gone home to be with the Lord. I do not believe that we can pray to angels and neither do I believe that we can pray to the saints. They cannot answer our prayers and I do not believe they are able to hear them, I would not be surprised that the Saints are aware of us here in the world. Though I do believe that my parents are to this day praying for God’s enduring mercy upon their children. I do believe that All Saints Day is a day to remember what they have contributed to us by the life that they lived here, and, it is a day to commune with the Saints that are still here in the world. I do not much care for trick or treating but I do care to show my love and prayer support for my brothers and sisters in the faith.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in the future tense where He lives, prayed for the Saints that were present and yet unborn. In His high priestly prayer he prayed not only for His disciples of the day but for the disciples that would follow because of their ministry. During that prayer Jesus prayed for us, you and I today, as well as he prayed for the Saints of that day. “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21) This is the Communion of Saints.

The Apostle John prayed for the Saints of his day that they too may enter into the fellowship of faith with the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that the Apostle John was a man of great vision and it would not be a large leap for us to believe that He also prayed for you and me as a result of the work of the Saints of his day. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3) This is the Communion of Saints.

The day is coming for all of us when we all will gather with all the Saints from the beginning and have fellowship. The day is soon coming when you will see your greatest grandfather and grandmother and all those who have trusted in the Lord since the beginning. To make the greater point we all shall see our dearest parents Adam and Eve. We shall sit down with them and break bread together. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:22-24) This is the Communion of Saints.

Who are these Saints that we can communion with? I pray and hope that each one of us here today is a Saint. Those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior are Saints. If we follow Him and walk in the light of His truth the Apostle John says this, “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

As Saints bound for the coming glory we can celebrate on All Saints Day a Communion of the Saints. We mark that as a special day for communion with each other but we should Communion with the Saints each and every day. The Apostles Paul says this. “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

In our Communion with the Saints we should love one another and show that love by giving encouragement to each other. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) As we go through our days here we are all faced with trials and tribulations which bring grief upon us. Therefore we need to comfort our fellow Saints. Comfort each other in the words of God’s truth. “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) It is a rocky road that we travel in this journey through the world and we will stumble and fall. It happens to you and it happens to me and we need to confess and turn to the straighter path. We need the prayers of each other. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16) This is the Communion of Saints.

Jesus loves us, there is no greater love than His. Jesus prays for us, there is no greater prayer than His. Jesus comforts us with His truth, He has given us the Sword of His Spirit, the Word of God, and there is no greater comfort than the truth. On this Halloween, All Hallows Eve, let us mark it with meditation upon those who have sacrificed so much that we can have the blessings that we enjoy today. It has all been given to us in the providence of God’s love for us. Then tomorrow on All Saints Day let us be more mindful of those Saints that are with us, and those who need to know of our Lord, that we all can commune together as Saints of the Almighty King. “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Pleasant Manor, October 31, 2015

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