From the Pastor's Pen


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Pastor W

October:  Pastor's Message


 



 

        The retail world says that the second most popular holiday in America, in terms of the money we spend on it, is Halloween.  The National Retail Federation says we spent 9 billion dollars last year - that works out to an average of $86.79 for every man, woman, and child in the United States!  

     Halloween, however, began very differently.  It was originally All Hallows E'en, or the evening before All Saints Day.  November 1st has been set aside in many branches of Christianity as a day to remember saints, the faithful followers of Jesus.  (That's what "saint" means in the Bible - the whole idea of honoring only a select few deceased Christians chosen by the Pope doesn't gain traction until about the fourth century).  

 

       The eve of (night before) All Saints Day was set aside as a special time to imitate the saints as faithful followers of Jesus. Christian families would light a candle in the window of their homes, advertising that their neighbors in need could stop by and receive a gift of food, clothing, or perhaps even money. Normally, charity was handled by the local churches, but on nights like All Hallows E'en (and Christmas Eve and a few others), families and individuals were encouraged to share person-to-person with their neighbors as a witness that Christianity is really about people in relationships with Jesus and with each other, and not just an institution.

 

     But just like today, back in the Middle Ages there were lots of folks who mocked and scorned those who believed in the Gospel. They dressed up as ghosts and devils and monsters and went through the streets scaring people (belief in the supernatural was much more pronounced then) and playing pranks ("tricks") on both the poor and the Christian households who were striving to live out their faith.

 

     Halloween was not popular in colonial America, thanks primarily to our Reformed ancestors (the Congregationalists in New England and the Presbyterians in New York and New Jersey). But there was a large influx of immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century from Ireland, Italy, and other places where the Reformed tradition wasn't as influential. As a result, trick-or-treating, costume parties, ghost stories, sĂ©ances and scary movies became popular fare.

 

     I want to urge you to re-claim Halloween as a Christian holy time. If you're a parent or grandparent, urge your kids to dress up as "good guys" - people who are heroic and kind and caring, such as first responders, nurses, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, doctors, teachers, etc.. Turn on your porch light and pass out treats (individually wrapped, of course) or coins and smiles to children, teenagers, and adults alike. Make a special donation of money and/or involvement to charity (the CROP Hunger Walk on October 6th is a great choice!) or help out a neighbor in need with raking leaves, a tasty treat, a phone call or a visit. And be sure to pray for your neighbors in need - "the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).

 

     Don't forget to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Invite your family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers and classmates to join you here at Hawker Church. In addition to our Sunday worship services and Sunday School for all ages this month, we're blessing our beloved pets on October 2nd at 6:30 p.m. And our annual Trunk 'n' Treat and Fall Vespers Service is October 27th, beginning at 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome!

 

 

                                                         Yours in Christ,

                                                           Pastor David J. Williamson      

 

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