Back in the mists of time when most Christians in the northern and western parts of Europe were Catholic, we all followed a calendar of Feasts and Holy days (holidays), which included the following:
- October 31 “All Hallows Eve” (or Hallowe’en)
- November 1 “All Hallows” day – or All Saints Day.
- November 2 “All Souls” Day.
Feast days always began at the evening of the night before the feast (hence All Hallows Even(ing) = Halloween). In Ireland and Britain (and perhaps other European countries too), a tradition began over 1000 years ago to gather in the church yard on the eve of All Hallows to ask God’s blessing and protection from evil in the world. Often people would gather wearing costumes depicting saints or evil spirits, and they would act out the battle between good and evil around bonfires…….. (Can you see in this the seeds of our modern day ghouls, goblins, and nun/monk Hallowe’en costumes?!!)In Spanish speaking countries there is a similar tradition – el Día de los Muertos – the day to honour the dead. Families will gather at the graves of their dead, often decorating them with sugar sweets and flowers, and with a time for praying that the dead be “blessed” by God with the rewards of Heaven.
At Cedar Park United we are part of a Christian tradition that believes that God’s love is so eternally limitless, that the souls (or the essence) of those who have died are still held in God’s limitless love, and that these bonds of love outlast life and death. So we gather on the Sunday closest to these festivals of remembrance and we light a candle for our loved ones who have died, but who still live on in memory and love. As the light of these candles grows, they cast the light of God’s love, and ours into the darkness of grief. It’s really not easy to explain, that’s why death and love and remembrance remain a deep, holy mystery. This is the day we simply sit within the mystery, together. And it is beautiful. And you are welcome to come and be with us.