Halloween Word on the Week 28th October 2023.
The name Hallowe’en comes from All Hallows’ Eve. It appears on the traditional church calendar, as the eve of All Saints’ Day. It arrives next Tuesday 31 st October the day Protestants remember Martin Luther’s spectacularly triggering of the reformation. On 1 st November, faithful Catholics will light candles and pray for departed souls to observe All Saints Day.
Originally celebrated in May, this day was moved to November 1, possibly to absorb the pagan Celtic festival of Samhain. It heralded the end of summer and the start of the dark days of winter. Our Celtic forebears believed that the boundary between this world and the otherworld thinned at that time of year inviting contact with the spirit world.
In order to trick the devil into deceiving you were someone else masks were worn along with clothing that would complete the disguise. Acts of mischief would take place and the remedy was usually paid in sweets and fruit and nuts! I can remember when TV first appeared two of our neighbours children dressed as walking TV’s from which they broadcasted their demands!
Commercial interests have taken over, what is a lean trading time of the year, by a multitude of ‘trick or treat’, witches and warlock’s disguises to use in the many parties on the night.
One year we were in Philadelphia at Halloween when we saw the extent families would go to in celebrating the festival. Many houses used their front garden to display their enthusiasm for the event. One I do remember had illuminated skeletons engaged in some fiendish dance! I know the boundary between the spirit world and purgatory is supposed to be thin but there are limits even in make-belief!
The Bible doesn’t have much time for such antics. The prophet Isaiah was quite forthright, “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people enquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah Chapter 8 verse 19).
Jesus, who was called the ‘Prince of Devil’s’ by his enemies, the name given to satan, told his followers not to fear those who could kill the body but to fear Him who could cast the body into hell (Matthew 10 verse 28). He told the parable about Lazarus to illustrate the one-way traffic there was after death. There is a great chasm of separation that cannot be bridged (Luke 16 verse 26). King David understood this following the death of his son — “l will go to him but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12 verse 23).
Now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor.6 verse 2).