Sermon for Sunday October 27, 2019 – Discovery of the Holy Cross
Passages: Isaiah 33:22-34:1; 1 Corinthians 1:18-24; Matthew 24:27-36
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen
“You can hunt us and fry us, you can turn every way, ghosts, witches and goblins are coming your way. Try as you might you can’t stop us, you’re scared. For in this night all types of monsters in your soul they will stare. Witches and vampires, mummies and ghouls, in the dark everywhere, tonight will be seen, for together this night we celebrate frightful Halloween!”
In a few short days, either our children, grandchildren or maybe even us, will dress up in various costumes of fictional characters and go out trick or treating, drinking, partying in celebration of this fall season of Halloween. Maybe we won’t be the ones who dress up and go out, but certainly either children of our neighbors will come to our doors or we will see children in the streets going out door to door asking for candy. A time honored tradition which those of us especially living in North America seem to naively commemorate or celebrate without question. And we may ask ourselves, what is the Church’s stance regarding the Halloween season? Undoubtedly, our social media pages or our email’s have been filled with images of how Halloween is not a Christian holiday or it is a pagan ritual etc. There are some, who are very strict and conservative and absolutely avoid if not condemn others who might celebrate it. Then there is the opposite side of the argument that it has nothing to do with the Church, because it is merely the childhood experience. Regardless which side of the argument you fall on, and regardless of which historical tale you read, that either Halloween was a pagan celebration or that it was a Christian celebration that was twisted and perverted overtime, regardless of these, one thing does strike me about our celebration of Halloween, our attitudes.
The childish poem which I began the sermon with, with its clever rhyme, seemed innocent – yet, by examining the words – the poem is promoting an idea that we don’t pay much attention too. Here is that poem again, “You can hunt us and fry us, you can turn every way, ghosts, witches and goblins are coming your way. Try as you might you can’t stop us, you’re scared. For in the night all types of monsters in your soul they will stare. Witches and vampires, mummies and ghouls, in the dark everywhere, tonight will be seen, for together this night we celebrate frightful Halloween!” What this poem is teaching is that no matter what you do, no matter how far you run away, no matter how hard you try – ghosts, witches, goblins, ghouls and vampires, mummies and all sorts of monsters are going to get you. Now this may seem childish, because we all know ghosts, witches, goblins, ghouls and vampires, mummies are not real, they are made up in the movies. They are fictional. But even if they are not part of reality, what they represent is. “Try as you might you can’t stop us, you’re scared…”
These fictional characters are there to scare us – meaning they are not tools of education, growth, love, hope and light. They are in and of themselves representations of evil, of darkness, of pain and suffering, of momentary satisfaction and pleasure, of lust and of cruelty. And what this childish poem is saying is – try as you might you can’t stop us. We cannot stop evil – especially when we are celebrating evil by diminishing its impact to merely a childish festival to gather candy. Again regardless of the history, have we thought about the fact that as parents, teachers, as Christian’s who identify in Christ – we all actively are celebrating, lifting up and boasting about fictional and fake characters that promote evil and yet, when it comes to our faith – “oh Der Hayr, Sunday is my one day off, I’d like to rest.”
We spend hundreds of dollars on this festival and make efforts and spend time, to go to parties and plays, yet, we make excuses when it comes to donating time, money and effort to our Church and ultimately to God? Remember what I said, it is about our attitudes, our thinking that troubles me most. In today’s society it is okay to dress up as a vampire, which is a blood thirsty creature, that is often in movies displayed as an overly sexual creature that hunts and get what it desires, yet, it is not okay to openly wear your cross around your neck and speak about your faith. We are surprised when atrocities happen, when shootings take place, when society looks for a way out through opioids and other numbing methods – and yet, we celebrate a day dedicated to monstrosities because it is an innocent children’s holiday?
My dear brothers and sisters, it is the children that are the most vulnerable. And it is us, all of humanity, we are the children – who do not see that every action, from the most important decisions of our lives all the way down to the smallest and most insignificant fictional displays of joy that we may celebrate – they all impact our lives, they leave in imprint. This does not mean that if you celebrate or dress up, or hand out candy or even have your children go out for Halloween that you are evil or promoting evil – but, what I want each one of us to think about is – how much time and effort do we take to think about these actions, reflect on our decisions, and place an importance on our small choices. How much time and effort do we dedicate to our own faith in the real person of Christ Jesus vs. some fictional monsters?
We can say happy Halloween – but in a few short weeks, we can’t say Merry Christmas. We can say Trick or Treat – but we can’t say God bless you. We can decorate our public spaces with fictional graves and corpses and all sorts of evil – yet, we can not display public manger scenes, public displays of Christian faith, we can’t even call it a Christmas tree. What are we promoting?
As Christians, it is Christ, it is our faith that we must be promoting through the way we love, forgive, help, raise, educate and respect others. From the smallest to the greatest decisions, choices and actions. We are not in the season of Halloween, my dears, we are in the season of the Cross. And we are preparing soon to be in the season of Advent – of Christ Jesus coming into this world to fill it with love, with hope, with light, with healing – not fear, not evil, not fictional displays of joy but real joy. “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” (Is. 13:33)
I am not saying do not celebrate Halloween, but I urge us to firstly pray, to humble ourselves, to turn to God and to grow in our faith. To come to Church and bring our children to Church as easily and as willfully as we celebrate and make time for these fake celebrations. To not settle by handing out candy to strangers but by our life’s example, to hand out our faith to all those around us, whether they are knocking on our doors or not. Because on Halloween, yes children come knocking – but Christ is knocking everyday. Not fictional and dressed up to scare us. But the real and resurrected Christ Jesus – to come into our homes, to fill our lives with hope and faith.
Therefore, my dears if we want to, let us celebrate Halloween, but let us also continually examine ourselves and the choices we make. Praying to God our Father for clarity of mind, heart and spirit. Placing our hope in the real person of Christ Jesus by whom we will conquer all evil, fictional and real, by whom the Divine power of life has been gifted to us freely in order for us to bless others as we have been blessed. And through which we continually glorify the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, eternally, Amen!