Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Boo! Did I scare you? After all, today is Halloween. There is little doubt that the history of this holiday is founded in occult themes. It goes way back to Scotland and Ireland where Druid Priests celebrated a special day in honor of Saman, Lord of the Dead. The belief was that on the eve of this celebration, Saman called together all the souls of those who had died the previous year and who currently inhabited the bodies of animals, to return to their homes. Bon-fires were lit to scare off these spirits and children would dress in costumes to confuse these wandering souls.
Jack-o-lanterns also go back to this era, only they started as large rutabagas, carved with gross faces and lit with candles. This is due to a tale about a man named Jack who was a notorious drunkard but who was also smart. As a result, the fable says that when he died, he was turned away from both heaven and hell. As a result, he put a glowing coal into a carved turnip and he has been wandering the earth ever since. In 834 AD, Pope Gregory IV moved the festival of “All Saints Day” to November 1st. This was a day to honor all the Saints who had died. The eve of the festival was called, “All Hallows E’en” (E’en is a contraction for evening). This gave us the modern name, “Halloween.”
We can make Halloween a spiritually motivating day if we understand the heritage and the benefit that there is in remembering the life’s testimony and message of Saints who have already gone on to glory. We must first understand that one is not a “saint” because a church council declares it. A “saint” is anyone who has been made righteous through faith alone in Jesus Christ. It is Biblical and profitable for us to remember saints who have gone on before us. That is what Hebrews chapter eleven is all about…remembering men and women of God who have shown great faith and then allowing their life’s message to still motivate and challenge us even today. This Halloween this can include:
1. Saints of theology: These are individuals from the pages of Scripture whose life message greatly influence us for Jesus still today. For me, this is a man like Joshua from the pages of the Old Testament who led Israel in possessing the Promised Land.
2. Saints of history: These would be individuals who lived in history and whose testimony for Christ still impact us today. For me, that includes men like the great evangelist, D.L. Moody and the singer/songwriter, Keith Green.
3. Saints of family: These would be family members or close friends who are now with Jesus but whose heritage causes us to walk with Jesus today. For me, this is my Grandpa Distler, who was in full-time ministry for some 50 years before he died.
When we take time to reflect on great saints of the past, even Halloween can become spiritually profitable. After all, it was on Halloween in 1517 that a man named Martin Luther climbed some steps in Germany and posted his “95 Thesis” on the doors of the Wittenberg Church setting off what we know today as the “Great Reformation.”