Back in 834 AD, Pope Gregory IV moved the Catholic Church's holiday of "All Saint's Day" to November 1st in an attempt to counter what he saw as the pagan practices meant to honor the pagan god, Saman, who was considered to be the Lord of the Dead. "All Saint's Day" on November 1st was designed to honor all of the "saints" that had previously died. The Eve of this church holiday was called "All Hallows E'en" (E'en is a contraction for evening). This gave us the modern name "Halloween."
So how can all of this benefit you and I as followers of Jesus this weekend? Well, I believe that Pope Gregory had a point - there is great value in remembering the saints of old who have gone on to heaven before us and celebrating their life's messages that still impacts us today (such as those wonderful men and women mentioned in Hebrews 11). Now I would differ with Pope Gregory's definition of a "saint". I believe that Scripture would teach that all who have put their faith alone in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin is a "saint." I also believe that this Halloween, no matter what your thoughts are on the aspects of this cultural holiday, you can be spiritually refreshed if you will take time to remember and give thanks for the saints who have gone on to heaven before you but whose life's testimony still impacts you today.
So this Halloween, why not take a few minutes to reflect on some of these dear saints. You can break it down into three categories:
Saints of Theology - these would be men and women whose stories we find in Scripture and whose examples still impact us today, motivating us to live for God. For me, this is Joshua. His story motivates me to want to live courageously for God.
Saints of History - these would be men and women who lived since the Bible was completed and are now with the Lord. Maybe you knew them...maybe you didn't, but their life's example still motivates you for Jesus today. For me this would include men like the singer/song-writer, Keith Green (who I never met but whose music kept me on course spiritually during my teenage years) and Jerry Falwell.
Saints of Family - these would be men and women who were part of your family and are now with Jesus but whose life's message still impacts you spiritually today. For me, this is my Grandpa Distler who was a pastor for over 50 years before going home to be with the Lord.
This Halloween as I reflect on Joshua, Keith Green, Jerry Falwell, and my Grandpa Distler, I will find myself being spiritually refreshed and challenged to love God even more. So, with that in mind - Happy Halloween to all of you!