Today is a special day in the Church that is called All Saints Day. It is a time when we remember the faithful who have gone before us throughout the generations. Our Catholic brothers and sisters remember those very special people whom they have named as saints - many were martyrs who died for their faith. In the protestant church, we do acknowledge those special people, but we also remember all those who lived their lives dedicated to Christ and to His Church.
Last night - on Halloween - we were at our church, which is right on the main street of Holly, MI and we always enjoy welcoming the cute little trick or treaters who come in for candy, popcorn and cider. We offer a warm resting place and bathroom break as well. They can sit down and color and parents can visit while they rest. It is a highlight of the year for us at Holly Presbyterian Church.
Halloween is also known by the Church as All Hallows Eve. It reminds me a little of Fat Tuesday that comes just before Ash Wednesday. You know, where everyone pigs out before they start a fast for Lent? All Hallows Eve is a time for letting the spooks and spirits come out before they are hushed and hidden away by the honor and glory of the saints in Christ. Of course, the majority of our little spooks are totally harmless. Although that isn't always the case.
I will never forget the Halloween night when I was around the age of 10. We had been trick or treating all evening and our final stop was at my grandparents house. My grandmother always sat in a rocker in a certain place in front of the windows of the living room. My grandfather usually sat in another rocker on the other side of the room but this particular night, he was sitting on the couch, always ready to get up for the little spooks who came to the door. My grandparents enjoyed seeing the little ones in their costumes so much.
That night, however, they narrowly escaped being hit in the head by a big rock that was thrown so hard and fast, it went through the window, buzzed past both their heads and skidded across the hardwood floor in the next room, that was their bedroom. When we arrived they were, of course, visibly shook up as they saw the force of that rock and realized how close they came to being seriously injured or killed.
I like to think that people, in general, are good and caring, but we know from our own experiences or simply from watching the news that are truly are people in the world who do not value human life, who have a desire to harm or at least do not think about the harm they can cause.
Truth is, many of those saints we honor today, died at the hands of people who were hateful and mean-spirited and who cared nothing for life., They persevered and were faithful to the end. My own ancestors came to America, fleeing persecution because of their faith as Mennonites. They were buried alive simply because of their beliefs. I consider them as some of the saints I remember and honor.
Today, let us give thanks as we hold in our memories the many friends and relatives who were faithful Christians, who influenced us in the faith and who held fast to their beliefs even at times when they were challenged or persecuted.
Thank you, Gracious Lord, for all the saints who from their labors rest. Amen.