As a kid I loved Halloween. Are you kidding? What is there not to love? I would dress up in a sheet with eye holes cut out and roam from house to house collecting free candy! When I grew too tall to collect candy, I switched to scaring myself silly by going to haunted houses and watching creepy movies. What is it about ghosts and death that both fascinates and unnerves us?
Halloween was originally known as All Hallows Eve and it takes root out of the Christian Church from around the eighth century in England. The day after Halloween is All Saints Day, a church feast day to remember and pray for souls who died the previous year that they might be released from Purgatory. Purgatory is believed by some denominations to be a kind of holding tank for souls where they make amends for their sins before entering heaven. The day after All Saints Day (November 2nd) is All Souls Day, the day to pray for those who will die in the next year and become saints.
The night before All Saints Day was called All Hallows Eve (we know it as Halloween) or night of the dead and it was (is?) believed that on that night the spirits of the dead were released from Purgatory to make one last visit to their earthly homes. Later the tradition was added to by the poor who would go door to door begging for food in exchange for their prayers for the dead. Eventually, costumes were added depicting the dead, ghosts and the like to remind the living that salvation was still available to them and not to wait until it was too late and end up with the souls who were lost for all of eternity.
Costumes and beggar’s night or not, it is still a good idea to remind others salvation is still available to them and not to end up lost for now and or all of eternity. And it is a good idea as well not to wait until it is too late. Like it or not, death comes to us all.
It is also important to understand this truth. Death wasn’t the original plan. It was a choice made out of the gift (and curse) of free will. And life also is a choice made out of free will.
In our modern world few still recognize All Hallows Eve in its original form, but most Americans celebrate it in its full-blown, 9.1-million-dollar commercial form. As far away as we may be from the of the night of the dead in our post truth world, it doesn’t mean that we, the living, don’t have ghosts that haunt us. I am not talking about the spooky kind we see in the movies that make our hair stand on end that we associate with disembodied spirits, but the more insidious kind, the kind that can kill our joy in this life. The ghosts of our past, present and future. The ghosts that remind us of the things we may have done, or left undone. Said, or left unsaid. Of the things we regret. Or fear. The choices we have made and things that have happened. These are the ghosts that haunt our days and nights and that can keep us shackled in chains for far too much of our living.
The evil set loose on the day man fell from grace and brought death into the world opened a Pandora’s Box and the ghosts of the fateful day in Genesis visit each and every human life. We carry them in our conscious, in our sub conscious and in our hearts in different ways and for different reasons but they are there and they are real and destructive. And we all have them.
Where is our hope to be found? Where do we get peace of heart, mind and soul? Where do we find relief from the ghosts living within us? Not through mans wisdom or knowledge or persuasive words as Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians. No, it is found in one place and one place only: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom God raised from the dead… In the stone that the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” “Acts 4: 10-12.
Our hope and relief from these ghosts is found only in the one who has the power to overcome death. The one who gives life. In Jesus Christ. He lived. He died. He rose from the dead and conquered sin (ghosts) and death for all who choose to believe.
This All Hallows Eve my prayer for you and for me, my friends, is that each one of us make the decision to receive the power from the only One that can and will set us free from all of all ghosts for all time.
Be joy filled always,