Monday, November 1, 2010

Revelation 7 thoughts on Halloween

In October, the excitement of Halloween can bring great joy to kids and adults. Carving pumpkins, wear a costume, trick-or-treating..what’s not to love? The United Methodist Men of Olivet threw a wonderful party between the worship services on the last Sunday of the month. Thanks to Jane Gribble for the decorating the hall. Kit Jones for leading the children's arts & crafts. Mary Novak who prepared delicious "eyeballs" (a pasta/meatball combinations) to eat at fellowship hour. I think we all got a good laugh at the well-costumed Hood family – and watching the children try to eat powdered donuts that hung from the limbo stick!

You could say that my participation in Halloween is in line with the kind of innocent fun we had at Olivet. It could be rated “G” or “E” for everyone. Since my daughters still prefer the princess and fairy costumes over the witches and skeletons, I had forgotten that there is another side of Halloween. The dark side: with zombies and Dracula’s. The side of Halloween that depicts death and the demonic.
Strangely, the dark side of Halloween came to my attention on a recent kindergarten field trip to a pumpkin patch. Along with learning about corn and harvesting, this farm included a hayride. This seemed harmless enough until the tractor rounded a corner and were in a wooded area with gory images of bodies hanging from trees suddenly met our eyes! One of the young girls in my group became so frightened she had to be held. Even in broad daylight, she was terrified by the people jumping out and the animated witches on brooms. Adults nearby comforted her, “It’s make-believe, honey, it’s make-believe.” I told her, “Close your eyes, don’t look at it.” It occurred to me as I held her that what we saw was not just spooky, it was violent. Worse, it depicted violence that ends in death.
Later when the kids were talking about their sisters and brothers, this little one sadly said that she had a sister, but her sister had died.
That was when I realized that although it is true that violence we saw was make-believe – this girl knew that death is not. Death is not pretend, not for any of us. But death, for us who have faith, isn’t scary. It is not spooky or something to be feared. Death is the beginning of a new life in God’s glory.
Halloween was on a Sunday and it coincided this year with our celebration of All Saints/ All Souls, The scripture reading was from Revelation 7, where John is able to take a peek into the realm of heaven. He sees those who have died together at the throne of God. He is not afraid, but amazed at this musical gathering of people and angels living and worshiping together. I don’t know if John expected that heaven would be a time of eternal retirement, where we relax on a cloud while a cherub serenades us with a harp – but it certainly was not what he saw. The picture of heaven is active and busy.
In our worship service for All Saints/All Souls, the gathered community lifted up the names of those who died in the last year. We were reminded of the words from Philippians, that our citizenship is beyond earth, it is in heaven.. and someday each of use will join the multitudes in with eternal gratitude for what God has brought us through in life.
Olivet Church dedicated a new memorial plaque which will be located in the church sanctuary as a tangible place of honor for those we love. Each name was read and the church bell tolled in reverence.
May we rest in the truth of the promises of the Lord- that in death, He gives us life, in darkness, light and in sorrow, hope.

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