All Hallow's Eve - October 31 and All Saints Day - November 1 Are you and your children going to get dressed up for Halloween? What will you be? Why do you do it? (to get candy, because that’s what you do, because it’s fun.) Most likely you do it because people before you did it. People have been dressing up for quite a while now, but have you ever wondered what gave people the idea in the first place? People have actually been dressing up in crazy costumes for thousands of years.
Before there were any Christians in Ireland there were a people called the Celts. The Celts believed the New Year began on November 1 and that on the night before which was October 31 the border between the world of the living and that of the dead became thin. The spirits of the dead would then be able to cross over for this one night into the world of the living.
People were afraid of what the spirits might do to them, so they started to dress up to disguise themselves. They would roam the streets in these disguises trying to fool the spirits into believing that they were spirits too, and people have been dressing up on October 31 ever since.
When the Christians came to Ireland they brought a new celebration they called All Hallow’s day. Hallow, means holy, They celebrated the lives of famous Christians who had once lived on that Day. “Ween” btw, is short for e’ven, or evening, the night before, like Christmas Eve. So Halloween is a blending of Hallow’s Ev’en, the night before All Hallow’s Day.
We still celebrate All Hallow’s day but now we call it All Saints Day, and we remember the saints who were once a part of this church. And the saints who are among us today. Here at church, we celebrate All Saints Day on the Sunday closest to November 1. This year it will be on Sunday, November 3. We invite anyone to submit the names of loved ones who have died in the past year before the service, and then during the service those names are read and a flower is placed in a vase by the altar in that person's memory.
Do you know what a saint is? Some people think they are very, very holy people like St. Matthew or Saint Francis, some people think they are just very good Christian people, like all the people sitting in church today, but I heard a story about a young boy who came up with a way to describe saints that I like very much:
He was about nine years old when he went with his parents to Europe one summer. Part of their tour was visiting the great old cathedrals of the past. As he would visit cathedral after cathedral he saw the massive stained glass portraits of the disciples and of other saints. He was so impressed as he stood in these great empty halls looking through the beautiful stained glass windows. Upon returning home he told his Sunday School teacher about the great churches of Europe and the glass portraits of the saints. His teacher asked him, "What is a saint?" As his mind went back to those massive beautiful stained glass windows, he said, "A saint is someone who lets the light shine through." That’s a great way to put it, a saint lets God’s light shine through them; by what they say and do.
So we can all learn to be saints by thinking about what we say and do… is it something God would say or do? If it is, we are letting God’s light and God’s love shine through us.
Our church is named after the Saint named Paul. You can stop into the chapel to learn more about Paul through looking at the stained glass windows in the chapel. Hundreds of years ago, most people did not know how to read. That was a skill reserved for the wealthy and highly educated. So churches used their stained glass windows to tell the story of God, Jesus and the saints. As you stand at the rear of the chapel on the east side, you call see the story of Saint Paul's life from the Bible depicted in each panel. Panel 1- Acts 22: Paul sitting at the feet of the teacher Gamaliel, Panel 2- Acts 7: Saul witnessing the death by stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, Panel 3-Acts 22: Saul's conversion to Christianity and changing his name to Paul on the road to Damascus, Panel 4-Acts 16: Paul and Silas in jail at Philippi, Panel 5-Acts 17: Paul preaching in Rome, Panel 6-Acts 16: Paul dreams of being called as a missionary to Macedonia, Panel 7-Acts 26: Paul appears in chains before King Herod Agrippa and tells his life story, Panel 8-Acts 27: Paul is shipwrecked during a journey to Rome but all on board are rescued, Panel 9-Ephesians 6: Paul's life ends in a Roman prison
Questions to think about: What do you think a saint is? What does a saint look like? How does a saint act? Who are some people you know who are saints? How did the light of God shine through them? What can we do to let God's light shine through us? What are some times when God's light wasn't able to shine through? (not sharing/mean to others)