10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of ◙ the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Thereforetake up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
It’s late for our walk, and it is raining outside. Do you think it is a good idea if we just sit here by my desk and talk for a while? I thought so! After all, there is no sense in going for a walk tonight in a cold rain. It is a sign of the approach of November.
November on my dad’s farm was the worse weather month of all, in my opinion – at least until the first snowfall. All seemed dark and bleak and depressing on a cold, blustery, rainy November day. The alder bushes by the brooks, those cussed bushes, that we tried to eliminate from creeping into the meadows were so persistent in creeping back. Leafless in November, the rain made their bark look black and sleek. When the weather turned cold enough for the rain to become sleet, the alder bark was the first place the ice would cling. Walking down to the barn for firewood in early evening on a rainy night like this was a lonesome, cold walk. It was always a hasty walk on such a night, and when you entered the farm door, you were delighted to be embraced by a warm, lighted kitchen.
October is the prelude to November, and its last night portends the darkness; the icy, rainy, cold weather to come; and the desire to sit comfortably by a warm hearth in your home. All the superstitions and traditions of Halloween reach out to the entrance of that difficult month in New England and many other places in the world.
They say this year marks the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg. He lived in a time when the devil was an accepted presence ruling an evil world. Evil spirits lurked all around you in Luther’s day, and they were seeking your soul. Back in that age, homes this time of year were sprinkled throughout with holy water to keep evil from the household. Luther, himself, believed in the presence of the devil, and he warned others of the dangers of living a life of immorality and sin.
It was in Luther’s time that the Roman Catholic Church was selling indulgences, which promised that your loved ones could be saved the horrors of purgatory after death by your financial support of the church. Who would not wish to save loved ones from the torment and torture of purgatory? Saint Peter’s in Rome was built with those funds, and Martin Luther said that it was wrong. He emphasized that one was saved from evil and sinful ways by faith by belief in God not by good works alone. History tells the story of the argument between the Church and Luther’s followers. It is a bitter vengeful story that was certainly not blessed by our Lord. It was an angry battle that led to division and death among Christ believing people. In my opinion, it could be compared to the terrorists of today. Gratefully, the hostility and anger between the Roman Catholics and the Protestant reformers has disappeared in the life of most Christians. Some radicals on both sides may strain relations today between Protestants and Catholics, but I believe that in the past years, we have adapted to change and accepted what is meaningful to both churches.
Protestants now have nativities in their churches at Christmas time. They also have come to place a much higher regard for Mary in our Christian faith. Catholics now work to have better preaching of the word, sacraments, and sing hymns during their services. One Catholic Church I attended had a hymnbook that even included Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”.
Many of our traditions around Halloween come out of that period of time in the fifteen hundreds. There was a belief in goblins, ghosts, and evil spirits roaming the world on the eve of All Saints’ Day. One did wish on that evening to disguise yourself so that you would not be seen as a human on that night. There were great fires held on the hills to signify the fires of hell. It was a fearful night.
Some of my favorite Halloween memories go back when was living in Concord, New Hampshire so many years ago. One night, I took our children out for trick or treat, and when we came home, I sat on the doorstep of our home with Brunhilda, our family Saint Bernard. Our daughter Brenda wore a witch’s costume one year, and when I told her how horrible she looked, she told me she even scared herself. Bradford dressed as a hobo in the Dewey Elementary School parade. He wore an old beaten up hat and had a huge fake cigar in his hand. What fun.
Having placed a kerchief on Brunhilda’s head, we waited for trick and treaters. One woman who was passing by began hysterically laughing when she saw my Halloween dog. She asked me to remain where we were until she could come back with her camera. This was the day when there were not any cell phones. Halloween was a different holiday back then.
For me, Halloween today has become a far more somber and superstitious celebration. It resembles more the beliefs of Martin Luther’s day. The costumes of today are not simple costumes but rather macabre, violent looking costumes. The decorations outside of some people’s homes are more elaborate than one sees at Christmas time. Sometimes those decorations remain until after Christmas.
Halloween fun has changed since people have drifted more and more away from the Christian Church. Today, I am far more concerned about what people believe regarding Halloween – for Halloween has become, in my opinion, more and more paganistic.
If we are to celebrate Halloween, we need to harken back to our faith in Jesus Christ to see Him triumph over all evil in this world and in ourselves. This pastor, always looking at Halloween as a time for little children to wear a fun costume and seek candy at different houses is distressed how adults have taken over this time and made it into almost a “sacred” pagan form of worship. Oh my, this pastor has grown stuffy in his elder years! I don’t think so.
By the way – our door will be open on Halloween the old fashioned way – candy for the children and oohs and ahhs at their fun costumes.
Dear Lord as so many have turned away from the welcome of the Christian faith. May we reach out in love and truth to those lost upon their way. Help us to bring the love and power of Christ to all children and adults. With the return of a strong faith of goodness over evil, perhaps Halloween would be acceptable in Your sight. Amen.
Until our next walk – “ May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.” Amen.