Saturday, October 29, 2005

ALL SAINTS- a high holy day of the church

When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, Halloween has become synonymous with candy, costumes, scary stuff, witches, ghosts and pumpkins.

The true origins of Halloween lie with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts, November 1 marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter. The night before the new year, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, Lord of the Dead. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead—including ghosts, goblins and witches—returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.

When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added their own touches to the Samhain festival, such as making centerpieces out of apples and nuts for Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards. The Romans also bobbed for apples and drank cider—traditions which may sound familiar to you. But where does the Christian aspect of the holiday come into play? In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints) from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.”

ALL SAINTS DAY is one of the church's high holy days. It is the day Christians give thanks for all the good people God has placed in their lives, especially those who are already with God in heaven.

It is also a day when Christians give thanks for the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and in the lives of all people.

It is not because people are special in and of themselves that we call them saints, but it is because they are ordinary, everyday people who allow the Holy Spirit to work through them, doing the mighty deeds of the Lord.

Martin Luther writes, "the Holy Scriptures call Christians saints and the people of God. To forget that we are saints is to forget Christ and to forget our baptism."

All Saints is a day for remembering and giving thanks, as Christians remember the good people they have known and give thanks for the unending goodness of God.

In our church at Blakemore we read a list of those members in our congregation who have passed away since last year's ALL SAINTS DAY. A bell is rung and a candle is lit after each name is read. We have special banners that are brought in and though there is a sense of somberness it also a celebration of the lives of saints in our church and the Saints of the Church Universal.

I wonder, does your congregation celebrate this high holy day and if so, what are some of the rituals you do?


Tony said...

We have a very special service. Everyone brings a cut flower in memory of their deceased loved ones. We bring the flowers to the alter and call out the name of who we are remembering. Two volunteers create arrangements with the flowers as we bring them forward and call out the names. The arrangements are complete by the end of the service. A very moving remembrance service.

St.Phransus said...

that's cool. thanks for sharing your ritual.