Clergy Letter For October, by the Rev’d Emily Davis
Over the coming month you will see, if you haven’t already, the familiar Hallowe’en paraphernalia filling up our shop windows and supermarket aisles; the various masks, costumes and ghoulish accessories. Hallowe’en is now the third biggest festival for retailers behind Christmas and Easter, overtaking Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago.
A retraction of ‘All Hallows’ Eve’, Hallowe’en is thought to have originated with the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and dress up as ghosts and ghouls to ward of roaming evil spirits. When All Hallows Day (All Saints’ Day) was designated as November 1st in the eighth century, the new Christian festival incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. Now, largely thanks to the influence of our brethren over the pond, it has become the hugely popular and money-taking secular festival that it is today.
Hallowe’en is a rather peculiar and funny festival, and I know many Christians who don’t quite know what to make of it all. But for us, it begins an annual time and season of remembrance as we celebrate All Saints’ and All Souls day on November 1st and 2nd respectively.
But whatever we think of the Hallowe’en festivities as people of faith, it is hard to avoid all the hype and imagery every time we step out into the high street. Which is why a number of churches now have adopted something of the annual festival and transformed it into a celebration of light and Jesus Christ, who we believe to be the light of the world.
So this October as you’re passing the ghosts and ghouls, witches and goblins (or in some cases far worse) in the shops and supermarkets, remember and hold fast to the light that no darkness could overcome – Jesus Christ. And as we find ourselves surrounded by the numerous skeletons and Grim Reaper costumes, particularly as we remember those loved ones not with us this All Souls’ Day, then remember and hold aloft that hope of eternal life gifted to us all through Jesus Christ.
It is in the darkness that light shines particularly bright; and so perhaps during this rather peculiar festival of Hallowe’en we might find the courage and confidence, or at least the reason and excuse, to openly proclaim that faith which we hold. The faith we share in Jesus Christ, light of the world, who through God’s grace has given us full and abundant life in this world, and in the world to come the hope and promise of life everlasting.