As a kid growing up in a small town I loved Halloween. Are you kidding? What is there not to love? I could dress up in a sheet with eye holes cut out and roam from house to house collecting free candy, go home and stuff myself. When I grew too tall to collect free candy (I must confess I made my kids share their Halloween candy with me, mostly just the chocolate) I switched to scaring myself silly by going to haunted houses and watching creepy movies. What is it about ghosts and death that fascinates us and at the same time unnerves us in our very souls?
Here is a brief history on Halloween, stay with me, I promise it is brief.
*Halloween was originally known as All Hallows Eve and it takes root out of the Christian Church from around the eighth century in England. *All Saints Day was 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 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 is All Souls Day, the day to pray for those who will die in the next year and become saints, who, could be the person saying the prayer!
- Here we go…The night before All Saints Day was called All Hallows Eve or night of the dead and it was 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. And today we spend nearly 9.1 billion dollars on candy, decorations and costumes. What is wrong with that picture?
Let’s get something straight right out of the chute. Death is a lie. Those of us who believe in God and in Christ know that God is the Creator of all life and he doesn’t take it away, ever. Despite claims to the contrary death is not a natural part of the life that God intended for us when he created us for his pleasure here on earth. It was a choice we made and have paid for one life at a time ever since. We were warned. We bought the lie hook, line and sinker and we have been cursed by it ever since.
I’ll say it again, death is a lie. In our modern world few still recognize All Hallows Eve in its original form, but most Americans celebrate it in its full blown commercial form, all 9.1 billion dollars worth. As far away as we may be from the origin of the night of the dead, it doesn’t mean that we living don’t have ghosts that visit us. I am not talking about the spooky kind that make our hair stand on end that we see in the movies, but the more insidious kind, like the ones who visited Mr. Scrooge in Dickens’ famous tale; the ghosts of our past, present and future. The ghosts of things we may have done, or left undone. Or said, or left unsaid. Or the things we regret. Or fear. Ghosts of the choices we have made or of things that have happened to us or that others have done to us. These are the ghosts that haunt our days and nights and that can keep us shackled in chains.
The evil set loose on the day man fell from grace opened a Pandora’s Box and the ghosts of the fateful day in Genesis visit us all. 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. As a young woman in college I believed the lie that I had a right to choose. I was careless and selfish and that baby was going to be an inconvenience to me and speak the shame of my poor choices. The law of the land said it was legal for me, the mother, to get rid of the child in my womb so I did. I think the politically correct term is terminating the pregnancy. I think the Biblically correct term is murder. Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it moral. Remember, in 1930’s and 40’s Germany it was legal to murder Jews.
Fast forward eighteen years. I am married and following Jesus, I have two children and once again, I have an unexpected pregnancy. But this time there is no question the child will live and I sense in my soul a reprieve for the crime committed against the helpless one and against God. At this very moment another eighteen years later the Unexpected One sits at the kitchen table living and breathing and doing her homework as I, (another unplanned pregnancy) type this story. But the ghost of a sibling she and her brother and sister will never know visits my heart and mind. I have repented that sin. I know I have been forgiven and yet I grieve and I wonder who he or she would have been and what they would be like today had I had the courage to trust in God rather than believe the lie.
I have courageous friends who can’t bear children and they are haunted by the ghosts of empty wombs and would give anything to have my throwaway child. I have another brave friend who was told in the first trimester of her first pregnancy that her child would live only for a few moments after birth and she chose to carry him anyway because she trusted it was what God had called her to do. For the rest of that pregnancy she carried the child in her womb, the child that she Knew. Wouldn’t. Live. And she loved him and she mourned him. After his birth she held that precious life for a few treasured moments and I have never asked her, but I have no doubt that she has no regrets save one that he is not with her today.
Where is our hope to be found? Where do we get peace of heart and mind and relief from the haunting of our past, present and future? 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.
He lived. He died. He rose from the dead. He lives today. That. Is. Power. And with that power we lack, he sets us free from the chains, the ghosts and from the lie that is death.
This All Hallows Eve my prayer for you and me, my friends, is that we make the choice that will set us free from all of all ghosts for all time.
Be joy filled always,
Christine Davis ©