Summary: This is a sermon for Reformation Sunday. It covers the origins of All Hallow Eve, and describes Satan’s use of culture, past and present to disguise and confuse people to the "gospel" message recovered by Martin Luther
In Jesus Holy Name October 29, 2006
Reformation, Redeemer Lutheran
“The Un-Masking of All Hallows Eve”
This time of year is unlike any other in many respects. Every shopping center and grocery store is filled with all sorts of candy, costumes and decorations. This week children will parade up and down streets, disguised as their favorite characters, chanting ‘trick or treat’, while they hold out bags or pillow cases in hopes of collecting more candy than they can eat.
I like the story about Halloween that Laurie Beth Jones tells in her book, “Growing Something Besides Old”. She talks about one Halloween night when she had underestimated the number of children who would come to the door to trick or treat and she ran out of candy. In desperation, she began giving out quarters, nickels and dimes.
On little girl about 5 years old dressed as a fairy princess came to her door. She had the little crown and wand and everything. Jones dropped two quarters into the child’s sack and said to her. “I’ve run out of candy, but tomorrow you can take these coins to the store and turn them into real candy.” The little girl stepped back, looked up at her and said, “Lady, this is not a real wand.”
Today, most people and certainly most children have no knowledge of Halloween’s pagan origins.
In all actuality, “All Hallows Eve” was a pre Christian, pagan event. The ancient Druids of Ireland and Scotland celebrated the end of summer. The end of summer was called Sanhain, on November 1st. It was the Druid’s belief that on the even of this “end of summer” festival the Lord of Death would call together all the wicked souls who had died in the past 12 months. The druids believed that on Halloween, ghosts, spirits, witches and elves would come out to harm people. This was not unique to Ireland and Scotland. There were similar beliefs in Europe as well. Many believed the souls of the dead would return to their home. In order to keep yourself safe from returning spirits and their evil influence you would set out food as a “treat” or dress yourself in the garb of evil spirits to protect yourself.
In the 800’s the roman Catholic church decided to “christianize” the pagan festival and began celebrating “All Saints Day” on November 1st to commemorate the lives of all the saints. But the old pagan ideas remained.
Today there is a revival of the pagan religions. Present day “Neo Pagans”, New Druids, Satanists and witches all consider Halloween to be their “high holy day”, much like we consider Easter and Christmas to be our high holy days.
Most everyone is familiar with the Winchester Mystery House built by Sarah Winchester the widow of Oliver Winchester, who invented the famed Winchester rifle. She worried about the soul of her husband, because of all the Indians that his rifle was responsible for sending to the next life. She also feared for her own soul.
She consulted with mediums and spirits. She was told that as long as she kept building she would be spared. She was urged to placate the ghosts while she had time by providing them a place where they could dwell. She would need their friendship later.
She had 22 carpenters building her mansion, 160 rooms spread out over six acres. She had 47 chimneys, secret passage ways, stairs that led to no where. For 38 years she held nightly séances from which she would receive further direction in just how to build. Work was stopped when she died in 1922.
How sad that she did not consult the Master Carpenter. He would have prepared a real mansion eternity for her. Instead she lived her life in fear.
Hebrews 2:14 tells us that it is Satan who holds people in the fear of death. Referring to Jesus, the author of the book of Hebrews writes: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Satan is the great deceiver. (Genesis 3:1,4) He tricked Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden telling them a half truth. “you will not die”, he said. In the wilderness Satan quoted the bible to Jesus. Satan offered him earthly authority. Satan challenged Jesus to call God’s angels to protect himself or meet his needs of hunger. (Luke 4:3-8)
Satan is still alive and well. Another strategy of Satan is to convince people he is not real. Dress up in little red costumes with a pointed tail and horns and people will say, “how cute, how harmless.” If Adam and Eve had seen Satan in that red costume…do you think they would have succumbed to his temptation?