Fortunately, I had a Parish Council meeting on Wednesday night this week and had to leave home just as the doorbell started to ring with the trick or treaters flooding the streets. Also, fortunate because we had forgotten to buy any lollies to hand out… Halloween used to be something that we saw those crazy Americans doing but in recent years it has gained increasing popularity in Australia. I know many Christians struggle with the idea of Halloween due to the imagery attached but Halloween, while having pagan origin, also has Christian significance.
Originally, November 1 marked the end of the Summer months, and the pre-Christian Celts believed that the spirits of the departed returned to their homes at that time to visit loved ones. Masks and other disguises were worn to frighten off evil spirits who were trying to cut in on the action.
Around AD 610 Pope Boniface IV decided to ‘claim’ this festival for Jesus. He moved All Saints’ (or All Hallows’) Day, a feast celebrating the departed in Christ, from May 13 to November 1. The evening before was also sanctified as All Hallows’ Eve or Halloween. It was a time to remember the faithful believers of past ages and to pray that we, the living, might learn from their good example. The Protestants in the 16th century mostly banned the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve and Day, but this had little to do with associations with ghouls and goblins and much to do with anti-Catholicism.
This week we marked both All Saints and All Souls Day and it can be a time for us to reflect on those who have made an impact on the life of the church and our own personal lives. Each one of us has a story of how someone has influenced us in our faith, but each one of us is the recipient of a powerful legacy that has accumulated over the last 2,000 years. My prayer is that we might be good stewards of the legacy that is entrusted to us and that we might be looking for ways to influence the faith journeys of those around us as part of that stewardship. May we learn from their good example!
As a church known for its relationships, are we also not called to be known for the legacy we leave?