On Wednesday, October 31, we in America celebrate Halloween. Did you ever wonder how Halloween came into being? The following is from Dr. Carl Moser of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, from an article he wrote entitled, “Origins of Halloween.”:
“Before the time of Christ, the Celtic people of the British Isles and France were pantheistic. (They believed that god was in everything, and that god and his power was distributed through nature). Their New Year’s Eve was October 31. [The calendar year at this time only had 8 months, and the month of October, the 8th month was the last month of the year.] On that evening [October 31] they worshiped their god of death to signify the end of the old year. They believed that for this one night this god resurrected the people who died during the previous year. These “zombies” were sent to attack people who might be able to escape if they assumed disguises, especially if they disguised themselves as one of the zombies. The resurrected ones would demand food for themselves or they would cast a spell on the house. Sometimes people would hollow out a pumpkin or squash, carve a scary face on it, and put a candle inside to ward off the evil ones… To combat these superstitions, the Christian Church named November 1 as All Saints Day. On that day we remember those who have died in the faith. The evening before was named All Hallow E’ven, which has been shorten over time to Halloween.”
To add to confusion was what happened during the time of Luther, during the Reformation. At that time, Albert Brandenburg wanted to become ArchBishop of Germany. Although he was too young, only 23 years old, Brandenburg offered to pay $550,000.00 to the Church to become Archbishop. The Church accepted the offer, but a loan had to be taken out and paid back. So, Pope Leo X, decreed that an Indulgence could be bought. Half the money raised would go to pay for St. Peter’s Church in Rome, and other half would go to pay off Bradenburg’s loan.
The primary salesman of this Indulgence for the Church was named John Tetzel. He went out to the common people and frightened them with talk about the fires and tortures of Purgatory, that waited for them and their relatives, after death. But, if they bought this particular Indulgence, it would be a good enough work to give them or a relative a free pass into heaven, without Purgatory. This is what got Martin Luther so angered, and moved him to post his 95 Thesis on the Wittneberg Church door on October 31, so that people coming to Church on November 1, to celebrate All Saints Day, could read his protest of the abuse of Indulgences, and see the need for reform in the Church.
Without understanding the history of the past, we will repeat the past. In all of this, what a blessing God has given to us in the Bible. In His own Word, He states, “For it by grace that we are saved through faith, and this not of ourselves, it s a free gift, and not of works, so that no man can boast.” (Eph. 2: 8 + 9) And what blessing it is to know that Jesus is and will always be the Resurrection and the Life. (John 11)
Have a great October!
Pastor Brad Rick