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.