Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"All Hallowed's Eve"

So today across much of the U.S. there's the annual "fright" night, or better known "trick or treat" night known as Halloween.
In an attempt to "rescue" this day from the scary thing that it attempts to become, let me point out a few things that you may or may not know about how/what this day has come from.

Halloween has it's formation in Christian holiday - "All Hallowed Eves" - is the official celebratory event.   It is called that because it is the evening before "All Hallowed's day", or better known as "All Saints Day".
It was back in the 7th century that Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the feast of All Saints Day to November 1st to honor all of the Saints that had gone before them.  Now the Catholic version of "sainthood" is much different from my own concept.  The Catholic church has historically only recognized certain individuals as Saints - because of their exceptional life, witness, and often sacrifice for the Church and Jesus Christ.  The scripture though says that all who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are Saints.

Now, what exactly do we mean "Saint"?  Saint comes from the greek word "hagios" and literally means "holy one".  While most of us would be hesitant to describe ourselves as "holy ones" - we need to realize that it simply means "one set apart for a unique purpose".  For example, my toothbrush is "hagios"...not because it is of God, but because it is set apart for one unique purpose...and only for me!  So also, we are "hagios"...set  apart for God's purpose, and therefore all of us are "saints"...whether we know it or not!  (For more on this, see Acts 9:32, Romans 1:7, Ephesians 1:15, and as well Colossians 1:4, to name a few passages that speak of us as Saints).

As for this day...the Catholic church sought to take away the Medieval Druid rites and ceremonies that came from their pagan worship.  Oct. 31st was the Celtic day of Samhain, a day of honoring the dead, and also killing/sacrificing for the dead (usually their captured prisoners).  For the Celts, Nov. 1st ended the "days of light" and moved them into the "days of darkness" - sort of an end of summer for them (there's an article on the history of this at,   For the Celts slaughtering animals for the winter food also meant sacrificing for the gods and the priests and priestesses (druids) were essential in keeping them alive through the Winter ahead.  Bonfires, spirits, sacrifice for the dead...all of it became a gruesome part of a yearly celebration that has evolved over time to be a part of the Halloween we know of witches and goblins, etc... It seems every year around this time Hollywood attempts to one-up last year's gruesome and horrible death by some new monster - often spirit in form.  Interesting isn't it?  We can never underestimate the enemy's ability to try to rob, steal and destroy.

SO, what do we do with this day as Christ's followers? 

One thing is to remember that the real celebration is tomorrow...All Saints Day.  Today is the eve of that celebration, and it's certainly wonderful to take time and celebrate what God has done in bringing us to himself and making us uniquely His own.

The larger thing for me is that  this day celebrates the real beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  On this date, Oct. 31st, Martin Luther, a German Priest/Professor in Wittenberg, Germany, took "95 Thesis" (Propositions for Debate) to the door of the Church of Wittenberg and posted them in order to challenge the rights and authority of the Popes over the word of God.  That must have been seen at the time as a fairly inconsequential action (I doubt if anyone paid any attention to what he was doing at the time, since public notices were often posted on the door of the church at that time).  What does the protestations of one priest mean to an empire of the Church Institutional?  
Yet from these small beginnings began the Reformation.  Lutherans still celebrate this date as "Reformation Day".  I like that.

Today, statistically, is the second largest spending event of the U.S. shopping year (only Christmas outpaces the spending that takes place on Halloween).  

So, what can we do?
I know many years ago I was struck by the lure of Halloween to my children.  I was struck by the irony of seeing kids dress up in costumes that for the most part were quite innocent - but could also embrace the dark side of the enemy's world.  
Not wanting to compete with Halloween we established an alternative ritual - we went as a family bowling!  We then went out for Pizza and bought some treats to keep at home...i.e., we sought to "redeem" Halloween from the Pagan to the Personal...a fun time.
Now my daughter, Son-in-law, and grandkids are back here, and that's exactly what we're going to do again tonight.  I'd prefer my grandchildren grow up thinking "what a fun night this is" than be sucked into a world that the next day I would never want them to be caught up in.

OK, one more thing...I'll come back tomorrow to finish this...and we'll celebrate All Saints Day.

Peace...and thanksgiving for "All Hallowed's Eve".

Monday, October 15, 2012

More Praying Thoughts

It's been a couple of Sunday teachings now on Prayer.  All I can say is that I felt strongly that I was to encourage us to learn more about prayer.
I've spent the last two weeks talking about Prayer as Spiritual Warfare and it is important to know how true that is, but it is also relationship.  Here's where I find what Jesus says about Prayer to be so crucial.

Matthew 6:5-13 (NKJV)
5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Six quick things to say:

        1.  Prayer leads us God’s Love - Intimacy
                “Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name...”
        2.  Prayer leads us to Purpose and Wonder - “the Kingdom”
                “Your Kingdom Come...”
        3.  Prayer leads us to trust and surrender -
                “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven...”
        4.  Prayer leads us to trust in God’s Provision - Abundance
                “Give us this day our daily bread...”
        5.  Prayer leads us to Transformation -
                “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors...”
        6.  Prayer leads us to Preservation - Safe
                “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one...”

It's crucial that we learn that God has great delight in us as we turn to him in prayer.