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Thoughts on Halloween, as a disciple of Christ

24 October 2023 No Comment

From St Gregory’s newsletter and website.

Halloween is a festival celebrated each year on October 31, and this year on Tuesday, October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Hallowe’en. Over time, Halloween has evolved to incorporate activities such as trick-or-treating, carving pumpkin lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats. It has gained greater and greater popularity in recent years, particular as the UK becomes more influenced by American cultures and traditions. Where once the departed were honoured and saints commemorated for their positive influence and legacy of goodness and light, now Hollywood and commercialism has turned this occasion into another great sales opportunity. However, what appears to be harmless fun is, in fact, rooted in a celebration of darkness and evil.

In his book entitled ‘The Screwtape Letters’, C.S. Lewis imagines a senior devil training a junior devil about how to keep people unaware of their tactics to prevent people noticing and believing in God. Part of this training involves encouraging people to make a joke of darkness and evil by promoting the idea that evil is fun, and devils are just cheeky red chaps with horns and pitchforks. Yet a moment’s thought about the state of the world makes it impossible to deny that evil is real and wrecks individuals and communities. Darkness can alter a person’s life in a flicker. Darkness represents chaos and lack of direction. However, the good news is that a flame, no matter how small, can always pierce the darkness and provide direction, comfort and even warmth.

Jesus is described in the famous first chapter of John’s gospel as the light of all humanity and the darkness could not overcome it. Indeed, Jesus describes himself as the light of the world. Our lives should not be lived without hope; it’s not as though we stumble around in the darkness waiting for a candle to flicker on. Rather, hope is a real, fact-based promise where we live our lives at dawn, the break of day, in the certain knowledge that the sun will come and give us warmth and light to carry on another day.

If you have lost a loved one or have been impacted by evil and darkness, come and join us for our annual ‘Light Up a Life’ service inspired by the St Nicholas Hospice charity on Sunday 26 November at 3pm in St Gregory’s Church.

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God.

Revd Andrew Doarks

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