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Pentecost Ponderings: All Hallow’s Eve

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2

This morning I was downstairs speaking to the teachers at Discovery Preschool. I wished them luck today as they try to keep the children focused despite their seething energy in anticipation of tonight’s great candy-grab. In our household, my daughter is quite excited, and Ian while still too young to get Halloween, seems to know something is up. We sent him off to daycare this morning dressed as a train engineer with a Thomas the Tank engine toy in hand. He still has no idea, but he will before bedtime tonight! I suspect that next year he will anticipate Halloween that much more.

Perhaps I have missed it, but usually around this time of year there’s a flurry of email messages or facebook screeds that warn of the “pagan dangers” of Halloween. Maybe I am just a bit more careful with what I filter in. While it is true that Samhain in Celtic Pagan traditions is celebrated around this time of year, the Christian calendar marks November 1st as All Saints Day since at least 835. In old and middle English the term of the evening before November 1st was known as “All Hallows Evening” which was shortened to the more familiar Halloween.

While there are many directions I can take with this, I think the spookiness of the season is a way for us to face our fears. I’ve said many times from the pulpit that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, but rather fear. All Hallows Eve was in many ways about facing fears directly, and in fact, playing host to the very things that scare us. In some respects, as fearful as we make mediaeval times to be, they weren’t. It allowed people to face their fears and not let them dominate their lives. I find it ironic that when certain historical periods taught people to be afraid rather than to face fears, it became a time of some of the darkest movements in history.

All Saints was not supposed to be a scary time, but rather a comfort in a time of growing darkness. The reminder that there is a “cloud of witnesses” throughout time and space who have lived life in faith helps us to realize that we are not alone. So instead of fear, maybe let the comfort of receiving and giving hospitality as the nights grow longer. Let’s leave it that the scariest thing about Halloween is our children’s dental bill if we aren’t too careful.

Yours in Christ,

John

Upcoming Events

  • Remembrance Day Service
  • This coming Sunday, November 6th is our annual Remembrance Day service as part of the morning worship. The opening of worship will include a solemn service of remembrance including the laying of wreaths and the Last Post.
  • Christianity, the First 1000 years.
    • Continuing on Monday nights, this course explores the first 1000 years of Christianity, from its formation as a sect of Judaism to the circumstances leading up to the infamous Crusades. This week is on hold, Week 3 resumes next week (November 7th).
  • Brenda’s House – Treasure Trunk outreach.
    • Starting on November 12th, we are beginning an ongoing outreach program with the nearby Brenda’s House.
    • It is a social outreach for interaction and play with the residents and children of Brenda’s House
    • We are in need of 6-8 volunteers to help run the program from 6:30-8:30 on the second Wednesday of the month.
    • If you’re interested, please contact myself, Wendy, or Shaundra Carvey and we can provide additional details.
    • There is a special presentation as part of our worship service on October 30ththat will detail some of the work that Brenda’s House does.
  • Christmas Party
    • The St. Matthew’s Christmas Part is coming up on December 3rd at 6:30pm. Tickets are available through the office.
  • Congregational Membership Classes
    • If you or someone you know would like to formalize membership with St. Matthew’s, I am hoping to run a membership class in the next few months.  If you are interested, please email me, call me at the church, or speak with me directly on Sunday mornings.

 

Church Office Hours

  • Wendy’s regular office hours are Mondays, 11am-3pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday from 9am-3pm.
  • My regular office hours during the day are Sunday through Thursdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Pastoral care visits and community meetings sometimes require that I be out of the office from time to time during those hours.

 

 

 

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