(Below appears a tract I passed out with the Hallowe’en candy in 2007. “Chaos overwhelms the poor” describes that neighborhood.)
Hallowe’en is the night before a Christian holiday. The name of the holiday is “All Saints’ Day.” Years ago, they called it “All Hallows’ Day,” and the night before, “All Hallows’ Evening.”
Trick or treat, jack o’ lanterns and all the stuff with ghosts, come instead from a pagan holiday called Samhein. These customs became attached to Hallowe’en, but are not really part of it. Hallowe’en comes on October 31 every year. Samhein comes on the first full moon after September 21, which can be any day between September 22 and October 19.
A jack o’ lantern is a pumpkin with the insides carved out, and a candle or other light inside. What about the light inside of you?
It was to people just like you, that Jesus said these words:
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
These words aren’t about believing anything. They’re not about going to heaven after you die. They are instead about what you are, here and now, and what you do, here and now.
- You are God’s child. This does not depend on what you believe. Those to whom Jesus said these words, were not Christians; they weren’t “born again.” At the time he said this, no one but he alone knew that he would die and rise again to save the world from sin. You are God’s child now. Do you act like it?
- You are the world’s light. The light inside a jack o’lantern makes the whole thing glow, and shines out into the world. In this world, in your world, that light which comes from inside you and shines out into the world, is the only light that matters.
- Your good works won’t “save” you. No one can earn salvation. But your actions do have big effect, for good or harm, on your home, your family, and the ‘hood. Are your actions good?
On “All Saints’ Day,” the church remembers all those Christians who have gone before, who worked so hard to be faithful to what Jesus taught. The “communion of saints,” mentioned in the Creeds, means these souls are still available today, to support those who seek to continue in the same work they did. And it is work. Minimum requirements for anyone who wants to be about these things, include these four:
- Weekly church attendance. The people there aren’t perfect. Their beliefs aren’t perfect, either. Go anyway. Nobody but the church is even trying to understand and live as Jesus taught.
- Daily Bible study. Don’t rely on anybody else to tell you what the Bible says. Learn it for yourself. (Minimum: 15 minutes/day.)
- Daily prayer time. This must include admitting one’s mistakes and accepting forgiveness for them. (Minimum: 15 minutes/day.)
- Daily application of Jesus’ teachings as you understand them. This is not a matter of teaching them to others. It’s a matter of practicing them yourself. (Minimum: 24 hours/day.)
Your home, your family, the ‘hood all need your light and your good works.
Don’t wait for anything to change, before you will begin.
Do it now.
(c) 2013 William Tell