It seems that our world is head over heels in love with Halloween to the point of whole big box stores with all kinds of paraphernalia to be purchased for all ages. I can remember dressing up as a painter’s man using some of my dad’s painter’s garb. Carrying paint pails and paint brushes, my sister and I won first place and the prize was a silver dollar. What has happened to creativity? Halloween has become big business and the merchants are using their “trick or treat” to drain our pocketbooks and fill theirs. But, what is noticed more than that is the death culture it is promoting with the ghouls and goblins dripping with blood. Today public schools spend the month of October in preparation for the party centered around Halloween, costumes, candy and spooky music! The next day at school the children arrive on sugar load and teaching children is as if they were hanging from the chandeliers! I garner that trick or treating is fun and I must admit I love doling out the candy to the little ones as they come knocking. But, I also have to ask what about the spiritual significance of this day? Have we become so enamored with Halloween that we have forgotten about what really happened in 1517 on this date?
Here’s my dilemma. I will bet you 9 out of ten do not know that Oct 31st is not only Halloween but there is a significant historical event that we as Christians should know about and even celebrate. Yet sadly many, and that was me as well, have no idea about the significance of what else Oct 31st represents. For as many years as I had been a believing Christian, the church I attended never once mentioned this date and its spiritual significance. In fact like many churches today it was all about Harvest Parties, all about “fun.” We never even mentioned that something so significant happened that we should stop and take note. It was not until I was privileged to teach in a Reformed Christian Day School that I was awakened to what this day symbolized for me as a Protestant. What an awakening I was about to experience which would forever alter my view of this day! Familiar with All Saints Day? I never heard of it but in passing and never knew the significance of that date. Did you know that it was the date on which the Reformation began? Let me give you a mini history lesson. It all began on Oct 31, 1517 when one young German monk named Martin Luther in great boldness and courage nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg Castle door. After years as a monk searching for his peace and digesting the book of Romans, he had come to the conclusion that only through faith is one justified. He could not be quiet when the Holy Spirit had so altered his thinking and his heart. Why did I not know about this?
I began to question my own church hierarchy but came up against a blank slate. Why was this a new idea to me? Why didn’t my church celebrate this day? When I began to question I was politely told that we did not discuss this, but why? Once again it seemed that denominations were the leading divisive tool that the enemy had used to keep us in the dark. I was not satisfied and so went searching on my own. What I found was not only revealing but life altering. I found that this young German Monk, chose All Saints Day, Oct 31, 1517 to step out from his clerical collar and with great courage challenge the sale of indulgences to earn salvation. What Martin had learned in his quest for truth was this: salvation is a gift not to be purchased or sold. Not only did he learn that but he also learned that his church, his very denomination was selling indulgences to gain this coveted salvation. Yet in the first chapter of Romans he also learned this: 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes,” Martin could not be silent. He gathered his courage and wrote about this transformation that had changed his life forever! So emboldened he stepped up and told the world this marvelous news: the just shall live by faith not by works!
The question then before me is this: why am I not as bold as Martin Luther? Why am I not using this opportunity to tell the world of this marvelous news that I too have found? Is that not a significant opportunity to share the gospel with those who do not know? So although Halloween trick or treat is a fun activity there is something far more significant that we should be talking and sharing about. Are we telling the world?
So as a parent, grandparent or even a school aged child how might this day be celebrated? Here’s some ideas I found cruising through the web: http://www.lovetolearnplace.com/SpecialDays/Reformation/ReformersWordSearch.pdf
Have a Reformation Day Faire: http://www.lovetolearnplace.com/SpecialDays/Reformation/activities.html#anchor58776
Sing “A Mighty Fortress is our God” written by Martin Luther: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/m/i/g/mightyfo.htm
Print out this picture for little ones to color as you explain this day: http://www.teacherhelp.org/images/Martin%20Luther.pdf
Excellent ideas for teaching about this special day; activities, books etc.