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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.

Before this year, I have never really celebrated Halloween. In fact, I was brought up with ideas of it originating from pagan, even Satanic practices. The church I am currently a member of wastes no energy making a righteous fuss over the holiday, but they do put on a Fall  (not a Halloween) Festival for the neighborhood that includes costumes, games, and candy. A lot of churches in my denomination host Reformation Day Parties, complete with pinning the 99 Thesis on the doors of the church of Wittenburg.

After reading a few posts from the Internet Monk, however, I realized that Halloween, or more specifically, All Saints Day, is a Christian holiday that celebrates the victory of the saints through Jesus Christ. It is a day to remember the souls of believers and of those whom God used in a mighty way to further his kingdom. Why would we not want to celebrate this?

Today, the baby was a little under the weather, and my wife graciously sent me off to church while she stayed with him alone. I decided to go to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church instead of my home church because I knew that they observed the church calendar. How encouraging it was to remember the destiny of all saints! I’ll leave you with this passage from Revelation 7, part of which we read during the service.

9After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice:
   “Salvation belongs to our God,
   who sits on the throne,
   and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying:
   “Amen!
   Praise and glory
   and wisdom and thanks and honor
   and power and strength
   be to our God for ever and ever.
   Amen!”

 13Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

 14I answered, “Sir, you know.”

   And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore,
   “they are before the throne of God
      and serve him day and night in his temple;
   and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
 16Never again will they hunger;
      never again will they thirst.
   The sun will not beat upon them,
      nor any scorching heat.
 17For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
      he will lead them to springs of living water.
   And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

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