By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee
“ALL HALLOW’S DAY”
I love our culture’s English language. Despite its difficulties with verb forms and the pronunciation of vowel combinations there are words in our vocabulary that have arrived and have been adopted from other places and have become part of our own. Words like “copper” where we get the term “cop” referring to the local police officer. How did that happen? He wore a copper badge. Copper. Or ‘good-bye.’ This is just a shortened form of “God be with you” as friends would say to each other in parting company. This week, we get to talk about another American word invention as children along with playful adults celebrate “Halloween.” It’s a convoluted word that is short for “All Hallow’s Eve” which is important only because of “All Hallow’s Day.” It’s a matter of faith. Halloween is always on October 31st because All Hallow’s Day is always November 1st. All Hallow’s Day being a ‘holy day’ that Christians around the globe now call All Saints Day… a day to remember those who loved us to death.
But, with all things comes a choice. Faith matters and choices come and it’s no big secret the decisions we make flow from the things we believe. For instance, if I believe robbing a bank is wrong, then I most likely won’t rob a bank. If I believe it’s ok to rob a bank, then watch out… yours might be next. The other choice is believing robbing banks is wrong, but you do it anyway because you somehow believe you have no other means of an income. Desperate people do desperate things. So, yeah, faith matters! And Halloween is no different.
It seems some people have come to the place where Halloween is “of the devil” and leans into Satanic ritual. Bah! How many Halloween movies are there now? I’ve not seen a one as just the trailers alone contradict any positive memories of my childhood and its ‘all hallow’s eve’ antics. Yet of all my childhood remembrances I can only recall the notion of the neighborhood children getting all dressed up in costumes hiding whose child we were, so the adults could treat us like royalty handing out to each one as much candy as any kid desired. Our only regret was it lasted just one special night.
But, All Hallow’s Day is about death. And most younger children can’t process the finality of death so hiding behind a mask seems safe. But, for the rest of us, dying is real. All Hallow’s Day. Holy. Remembering. Dying for the good. Dying as a martyr for the faith. Dying in love for God, and neighbor as much as self. Dying in the hope of claiming the eternal life promised to us in baptism. It has become one of the most important days of my life… as the older I get the more names I add to my list of those who have loved me to death. And one day, my name will be added to that list as well. For to be ‘hallow’ is to be ‘holy’ and to be ‘holy’ literally means to be “set apart.” And in the case of “All Hallow’s Day” we not only refrain from worshipping the dead we offer a greater level of thanks to God recalling the faces of saints whose lives and love made a difference in who and how we are.
That means every day counts. Every life matters and our faith matters because the way we live impacts the level of love we give and thus the loss others experience when our days are done. Who do you miss? Who loved you to death? Have fun this October 31st but take a moment on “All Hallow’s Day” to thank God for the love and life so many handed out to you!
Brian Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland and the lead pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Pearland. You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi. Comments and questions can be sent to [email protected]