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Rejoice and Give Thanks, Saints of God!

Sunday is, as you know, Halloween. Did you know the reason Halloween is always on October 31 goes all the way back to the 7th Century, when Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day, a day to honor, or “hallow” (as in “hallowed be thy name…”), saints and martyrs. In about 1,000 AD, the Church added November 2 as “All Souls’ Day,” a day to remember the dead.

So the three days together -- the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’ came to be called “Hallowmas,” from which we get our modern-day term “All Hallow’s Evening,” or “Hallowe’en.”

So what, you might ask?

These three days are days set aside not just for the fun of the Leesburg Halloween Parade, dressing up in costumes and going to haunted corn mazes or trick-or-treating (all of which are perfectly innocent fun, by the way; don’t let some modern-day Puritan deprive you of it); but these days are also days to remember by name (as we’ll do at each of our services this Sunday) those who have died in the past year, those whom Scripture refers to as “our great cloud of witnesses.”

The “spooky” nature of Halloween is also a good “teaching moment” for children and adults alike: Halloween, All Saints’, and All Souls’ Days are days to remember what we believe about death, and the dead, whenever we have a baptism -- we do not need to be fearful of death, because a) we’ve already been buried with Christ in his death and risen to a new life, and b) for people of faith, our earthly death is not the end of life; it is a change in life, ushering us into a heavenly realm, or kingdom, where we live forever.

All Saints’ Day is also a time to remember what we believe about saints. We tend to think of them as “wonderfully nice people” as in “you’re such a saint,” or as perfect people, such as when we say, “I’m no saint. . .” But remember, saints were not necessarily “nice” people, and they would be the first to say they are not perfect. No, the saints of God are people just like you and me. Saints are people who allow the light of God to shine in their lives. Saints are people who know their need of God.

So…rejoice, give thanks, and see you Sunday, Saints of God!

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