All Hallows’ Eve
By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 12:22-34
22 He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you — you of little faith! 29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Two doors down from our house, returning home after walking our dog, my eyes were drawn to a Halloween display just put up by a neighbor. It was still August. On the rooftop was an enormous inflatable pumpkin with menacing arms and a big smile. The dog barked and then was intrigued. The day before the Feast of All Saints proves, once again, to be a peculiar festival indeed!
In the Celtic tradition, the festival of Samhain arose from pagan roots as a day to ridicule frightening things. In the Lutheran tradition, October 31 is Reformation Day in observance of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Boston, on the other hand, organized Saint Fest, copied later by many Protestant congregations, in an attempt to steer clear of more sinister celebrations.
Ultimately many pastors give up and let the children have their fun, even if that means more candy than is healthy. Our Episcopal customs are perhaps best reflected in the words of Father Sam Portaro, who wrote in A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts that Halloween is about using “the power of humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.”
The reading for today from St. Luke challenges us to move from fear — in this case, the haunting fear of scarcity — into the space of trust and abundance. Luke’s words speak to the graciousness of a God who always knows what we need. So, while we may enjoy a frivolous day of laughter and pranks and too much sugar, we should be diligent in striving for God’s Kingdom, remembering that, though surrounded by death or fear, we will have what we need from his hand.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for 30 years and reside on the Front Range.
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