Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows' Eve

I am of a different mind ten times in the course of a day. But I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away. When he tempts me with silly sins I say, “Devil, yesterday I broke wind too. Have you written it down on your list?”
The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.
- Martin Luther

Tomorrow is All Saints Day, when we remember all who have died  in the Lord.  Today, or technically tonight, is All Hallows' Eve, or Halloween.  All Hallows' Eve, historically, is a day when the Christian community has said to Satan, "You have no power over us.  Our Lord has defeated you and the powers of sin and death, therefore, we trust in his love and power and will be victorious."  Thus comes the tradition of dressing up in costumes - to mock Satan.

It is also Reformation Day and for many Protestants, the day when we commemorate the reformation of the church. Is it any wonder that Martin Luther, who struggled mightily with Satan and accepting Christ's power of forgiveness and atonement, would choose All Hallows' Eve to nail his Ninety-five Thesis to the door of the church in Wittenberg?  This document that mainly challenged the use of indulgences required by the Church to pay for one's self or loved ones out of the punishment of purgatory, would be seen by many.  (Unknown to Luther, it was soon after printed in the vernacular so that it could be read by even more.)  A very daring act for a monk and teacher in the Church.  An act that flouted and dared the powers of evil which had become entrenched in the hierarchy of the Church at that time.

This day is largely a secular holiday in the States. While I don't minimize the destruction that can be done with the wrong attitude, I really hope that soon, we who are Christians can reclaim the attitude and perspective in which it began nearly two thousand years ago.  This is a day to remember whose world this really is, and that for the spirits and forces that would destroy, their power is not only limited, but has an expiration date.

C.S. Lewis says in his preface to The Screwtape Letters,
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
So, today, to the Devil who would tempt and discourage and destroy, I say, "Boo!", and remember all those who've gone before me, who in word and deed, often at great sacrifice, did the same.

Almighty God,
your saints are one with you
in the mystical body of Christ:
give us grace to follow them
in all virtue and holiness
until we come to those inexpressible joys
which you have prepared for those
who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

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