Do you have Halloween Celebrations in your Church? Why? Or why not? Here are some reflections you can do in your church for the Halloween.
Halloween was traditionally celebrated by Christians as All Hallow's Eve on the night before All Saint's Day (Nov 1). It is a day to remember our continuing communion with the saints who walked ahead of us and to the recently departed loved ones. More than remembering them and celebrating their faith, we celebrate the object of their faith - that is Jesus Christ. We are reminded that even in the mortal death of our physical bodies, the object of our faith continues to live because we worship a living God.
A good scripture to reflect as we remember the dead is John 11:32-44(ESV). It talks about the dead Lazarus and the Living Christ Jesus.
32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
In the story of Lazarus, we are reminded that Jesus can raise up the dead (not a zombie – because they remain dead) and give life to it. It is not about raising a dead physical body but about GIVING LIFE TO A LIFE THAT IS DEAD. For our reflection:
1. Do you remember, once in your life you were dead because you did not know God. But God called you out (Lazarus... change it into your name, come out) And you came out of the grave and you now have life. How was your dead life before? Do you want to go back to the grave and be dead from God's presence? Is that what are we doing today, going back to the grave or following the voice of Jesus to come out?
On Nov 1 or 2, we go visit our dead. We go to the cemetery. What do you do there again? Do you pray for their souls or do you celebrate their life?
You can have your personal reasons. It may even include the reunions we have made as a tradition. But as Christians, we are told that everything we do, including celebrations, must glorify God. So the question I would like us to reflect:
2. Where is God in this holiday event? How is God part of this activity? Or maybe God is out of the equation. When you visit the cemetery, what will be the role of God? When you have a reunion with your family, what will be the role of God? When you will be invited to join Halloween parties, ask your host what will be the role of God? When Jesus came to see the dead Lazarus, Jesus had an important role to play. What is His role now?
Lastly, let us look at Mary. She loved her brother Lazarus so much. All she wanted was for him to get better. So when Jesus came in late, she was upset. Mary blames Jesus, “if you had been here... if... if...” Mary thinks of the possibilities IF Jesus came in earlier. Lazarus could have been saved. But Mary did not know what the heartbreaking death of Lazarus could turn out to be. That depressing event is now one of the most miraculous stories that manifest the power and divinity of Jesus.
3. What depressing stories about our beloved’s death manifest the glory of God? Do we see anything good come out from the sad events in our lives? How can we turn the melancholy of November into a glorious story that points to Christ (mas)?