Brothers and sisters,
By the time you’re reading this article, I will no longer be in the state of North Carolina. As you all know, I’m on vacation this week and my friends and I have traveled out of state for one of the most interesting trips I’ve taken in a while! By the time you read this, I will be in Salem, Massachusetts, just a couple days before Halloween.
As a history buff and a nerd for all things religious studies, I’m incredibly excited to travel to a place where every street has a history, every building has a story, and every name has a past. I’m also excited to be there just a few days before Halloween simply because I love Halloween and Salem is a place that leans into the wonderful weirdness of that holiday. It leans into the air of mischief and mystery that Halloween brings with it. And, from all I’ve read about the town, it is this incredible blend of the old and new. You can walk down one street and find a wax museum that recreates the people involved in the Salem Witch Trials. Walk down another and you’ll come to the House of the Seven Gables, made famous by Nathanial Hawthorne. Turn the corner, though, and you’ll find yourself in a run-of-the-mill Starbucks or a CVS. Salem’s past and present intersect in a fascinating way.
Now, obviously Halloween gets a lot of fanfare each year. As of 2021, Halloween was a $10.1 billion industry in America, with $1.9 billion being spent on candy alone. Stores deck themselves out selling various spooky products and decorations. But there is a church holiday the day after Halloween that doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
All Saints Day happens every year on November 1. Halloween’s modern name is derived from its original name, All Hallows Eve—that is, the day before All Saints Day. And in the past, All Saints Day was a day of the year in which churches would honor the lives and the faith of Christian martyrs, the saints, who had come before them. In modern times, though, we tend to use the word “saint” to describe any person of faith.
That means that All Saints Day has grown into this holiday where the church takes time to remember those Christians that have come before us. It is a day when we deliberately take time to consider the ways that the Christians we have known in our own lives, before they passed away, have shaped and molded us. It is this beautiful expression of the way that God calls all kinds of people from places all over the world to be a family of faith. It reminds us of their love for God, their neighbors, and for each of us. It is a beautiful holiday where the church’s past and present intersect in a faithful way.
Typically, churches celebrate All Saints Day on the first Sunday after November 1 and so we will be celebrating on November 6 this year. The families of our church members who have gone on to glory have been invited to join us for a special service that Sunday. You are invited as well. Come on November 6 and support our brothers and sisters who have lost someone. Come and share with them a fond memory of their loved one. Come and remind them that you are available to them if they ever need anything. Come and be a part of this tradition that links us with those saints who have gone before us, those saints who live among us, and those saints who will come after us.
Grace and peace,