In today’s culture, Halloween is second only to Christmas with decorations and parties. This year, with Halloween on Sunday, churches across the country have struggled with when are we recognizing “All Saints’ Day” and “All Hallowed Eve.” We have opted to fully embrace All Hallowed Eve as our All Saints Day. Here’s some background information taken from the website History.org:

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1.

By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church made November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It’s widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, church-sanctioned holiday.

All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints’ Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Plan to join us on Sunday for our All Saints’ Day worship on Halloween. We will lift up members of our congregation who have died during the past year, lifting them up as the saints among us, as well as remembering “All the Saints.” As you prepare for worship this Sunday, hear this prayer that we will share during our time together:

We remember, O God…
The countless saints of history
who have blazed a trail of courage through time,

We remember, O God…
The tender touch of loved ones, the example of heroes,
the healing words of comforters,
the remarkable acts of fearless ones.

We remember, O God…
The gentle strength of grandmothers,
the loyalty of friends, the kindness of strangers,
the joy of children, the sacrifice of parents.

We remember, O God…
The supreme love of Jesus, the blessing of his Spirit,
the reminder of his words, the sharing of his suffering,
the glory of his resurrection:

shown forth in the lives of his disciples,
young and old, dead and living, articulate and silent,
strange and familiar, brilliant and ordinary.

We remember in every time and place the saints of God
who have shown us the Lord.

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…
let us worship God with joy!

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