Last night brought about an unexpected joy. Catherine was cleaning out our children’s closet and discovered a box with years and years of their Halloween costumes in it. As she opened the box the boys got excited about their costumes of the past…an Itsy Bitsy Spider, a UPS man, Ghost Busters, Batman, Robin all brought about a smile and an opportunity for play. Much to their chagrin, when they went to put the costumes on, they were too small.
Children love the idea of Halloween. I’m convinced that they love it so because, if only for an evening, they get to pretend that they are someone else…someone with super powers, someone who can frighten others, someone who can illicit an, “Oh how cute!” from the gruffest of men. But Halloween was not founded on costumes.
Halloween was initially the “All Hallows Eve.” Or, as we’ve come to know it today, the evening before All Saint’s Day. In the ancient world the evening of All Saints Day was believed to be the day when the spirit world and the physical world most closely aligned.
All Saint’s Day is also a significant day for the Church, for on the eve of All Saints Day an Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther hung 95 thesis on the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This event touched off the Reformation.
At its core the Reformation was about returning the Church to her Biblical roots. The fruit of the Reformation is that no longer do you have to give a wink and a nod to religious practices that have nothing to do with Scripture. No longer do pompous practices have to be considered pious. Today there are three remaining principles of the Reformation:
Faith Alone; Grace Alone; Scripture Alone.
It is not just children who love to pretend they are something they are not. We live in an “I’m okay, you’re okay” kind of world where we put on masks of every kind to hide our hurts, weaknesses and vulnerabilities from one another.
The Reformation redirects us to the truth about us: As the Scripture says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We too know who we are.
But All Saints day is a celebration of those who have been cleansed of their sin and put on Christ’s Robe of Righteousness. Christ’s Robe of Righteousness was placed upon you through the waters of Holy Baptism so that when the Father looks at you He sees that your sins are covered up in the love of His Son. When the Father looks at you He sees Jesus!
This month children across our nation will dress up for an evening to pretend to be someone they are not. We know what the Scriptures say about who we are. Yet if we hide ourselves in the mask of our own sinful flesh without considering the rest of the story of All Saints day and whom God has declared us to be in Christ, we’ll quickly figure out that mask is just too small.
simul justus et peccator…
You can find the most recent Windsock issue here.