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Now that there’s only a week until Halloween, I find myself reflecting again on All Saints’ Day, a church holiday I started observing only last year. I also find myself wondering why some in the Reformed tradition are apparently trying to redeem October 31st by celebrating Reformation Day instead of All Hallows Eve. The festivity looks much the same—there are costumes, treats, and games (including Pin the 95 Theses on the Wittenburg Door at at least one congregation’s festivities)—but what is being celebrated is different. Perhaps we are recoiling from the ghoulishness of Halloween and are trying to redeem what many perceive as a celebration of evil. But perhaps we, in typical Protestant fashion, are recoiling unnecessarily from a Catholic holiday.

I don’t deny that for the Protestant, the nailing of the 95 Theses to the church doors is something to remember and celebrate, but isn’t it of greater significance to celebrate the souls of our brothers and sisters who have passed into victory? They have gone on ahead of us—through temptations, doubts, despair, persecution, abandonement, rejection, loss, torture, and death—and by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, the Lord Jesus’s intercession, and God the Father’s eternal proclamation, they have entered into rest, joy, sight, life, and peace. In celebrating All Saint’s Day, we thank God for the work he did in the martyrs of old and in the lives of believing parents, pastors, and friends.

Why will most Protestant churches not mention this next Sunday? Perhaps it’s because All Saint’s Day technically celebrates only the canonized saints. Here, I agree with my fellow Protestants and protest the distinction made by All Saint’s and All Souls’ Day. For me, All Saint’s is All Souls’, a day of celebrating the sactification of all believers, who are all alike saved by the grace of Christ and are therefore all alike holy (Latin:  sanctus). If we want to redeem something, perhaps we can make some modifications in just who we are celebrating on November 1st, but there is no need to turn away from something so significantly hopeful to something else.

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