From the Episcopal Church Center:
The term “Halloween” is shortened from “All-hallow-even,” as it is the evening before All Hallows’ Day.
Halloween originated with the Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts this Festival marked the end of summer and the coming of winter.
For Celts it is a time when the bridge that separates the world of the living and the world of the dead becomes firmer, allowing spirits and ghosts and ghouls to cross over. These spirits or departed souls are honored and asked to grant luck and prosperity.
The 21st century secular popularity of this holiday has caused the Festival of the Dead to be less about honoring the dead and more about the commercial sale of ghoulish masks and frightening frivolity.
The dressing up was to resemble the souls of the dead which the pagans believed walk the land that night, along with the evil spirits, which people wore masks and lit bonfires to scare them away.
However, over the centuries our Christian beliefs have given way to focusing on honoring the dead through worship, prayer remembrances, and community, not only on All Soul’s Day but also the evening before known as All Hallows’ Eve.
In 1979, the Book of Occasional Services was created as a result of a General Convention Resolution. The All Hallows’ Eve service can be found on page 108. The service of the light, found on page 109, may be used prior to the All Hallows’ Eve service.
The photo, from Wikimedia Commons, shows a cemetery outside a Lutheran church in Röke, Sweden on the feast of All Hallows. Flowers and lighted candles are placed by relatives on the graves of their deceased loved ones.
We have just completed our first month together and I am excited. We have had some fun with the liturgical snafus, mostly at my doing. We have begun to discuss the future of St. Stephen’s. We have turned from focusing on the financial situation which we all know is difficult. We are beginning to think about things in front of us. We are slowly letting go of our great past, embracing it for all of its glory and excitement, while we begin to focus our energies on the path before us. Our past is the basis of our future, but we can not go back. That is just not possible. We can not live in the past because that means living among the dead.
St. Stephen’s is called to look forward to where Christ is calling us, to new life, and to muster all of our plentiful resources to go where we are called.
Yes, change is difficult. Yes change is hard because it means letting go of what we know. It means leaving comfortable ways of doing things behind. It means going to somewhere we are not sure of, and know little, if anything about. But, if we truly believe that God is calling us out to a new place, then we need to let our fears fall away.
You are cordially invited to attend “A Celebration of 50 Years in Ministry” for the Rev. David Else on Sunday, November 22 at 12 noon at the Westwood Golf Club, 825 Commonwealth Avenue, West Mifflin 15122.
We will be enjoying a sit-down luncheon with your choice of: Sliced Roast Beef, Chicken Marsala or Baked Cod. The cost of the luncheon is $25 with a portion of that going to one of Fr. Dave’s favorite charities.
RSVP to Sharon at 412-664-9379 with your luncheon choice by November 8. Payment of check or money order can be sent to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 220 Eighth Street, McKeesport, PA 15132.
Tickets may also be purchased online, using PayPal, at http://bit.ly/else50.
Thank you! We hope to see you on Sunday, November 22.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church