by Scott Nelson
Did you know that Halloween is a Christian holiday? I know people who say it is “the devil’s holiday” (as strange as it is to say that Satan gets a “holy day”), but for centuries this day has been celebrated as All Saint’s Day, or All Hallows Day. The night before is All Hallows Eve or Halloween. In the Christian calendar, All Saint’s Day is the when we reflect on the faithful departed, those who lived faithfully in Christ and are now living with Him. Remembering them is important; their lives can give us an inspiration.
- I remember Perpetua and Felicity, and noble woman and a slave who were martyred for their faith in northern Africa in AD 203. Emperor Severus ordered that no one could convert to Christianity, but these brave women defied that order and gave their lives to Christ. They were martyred in the arena by gladiators.
- I remember Joan of Arc, who receive visions of God and took action. She lived in France in the 1400s during the Hundred Years War. She was a teenager, yet she fought for her country and won, yet she was betrayed by her own countrymen and condemned as a heretic by a corrupt bishop who was playing politics. She would not renounce her faith and was burned at the stake at only 19 years old.
- I remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who fled Nazi Germany but chose to return to be a faithful witness for Jesus in a dangerous country. Because the state churches were compromising the gospel, he formed his own (illegal) churches, including a seminary. Bonhoeffer was captured and killed, but not before leaving behind powerful writings, including The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together.
- I remember my grandmother, who nurtured my faith in so many ways. She faithfully attended her church without her husband for decades. Her faith has been passed on to me and I remember her.
- Who are the people you remember, the stories that shape your faith?
Memory is so important. Memory of our past experiences and relationships shapes who we are as people. It is important to have days where we stop and remember the people and experiences that have shaped our lives, especially in the area of faith. That is why we have All Saints Day. If you have not taken the time to reflect, I encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to get family and friends and share your stories together. This is a great yearly tradition, and it counts for a lot a lot more than getting candy, watching scary movies, or going to parties.
We need the stories of the faithful departed, especially now. Our world is going through a global crisis. There will come a day when Jesus calls each of us home. And when that happens, my prayer is that those who know me will be able to look back and say that in the middle of that pandemic, he remained hopeful and faithful. Lord, may it be so for each of us.