A Word from Our Pastor 2013 October: For All the Saints

Copy of IMG_7663“For All The Saints”

For many of us, October’s big highlight is Halloween. Plenty of festivities with dressing up the kids and/or grandkids or seeing the neighbor kids, fond memories of buckets of trick-or-treat candy. . . When we dress up as witches or other scary creatures, it helps us to overcome our fears, by mocking the things that threaten us. . .as Christians we know that Christ has defeated death – the worst of our “enemies,” so we can make fun of the things that may frighten us. We can reassure ourselves that they have no power over us, for we stand in the light of God.

I suppose that the fall season brings up these concerns – about powerlessness, even about death. Just yesterday, it really felt like fall for the first time this year. Even though the sun was warm, actually very warm, a strong wind was blowing. Leaves flew through the neighborhood, showering pollen dust on my car, followed by a cool evening. Fall is a pretty dramatic season because of how much things change. Trees become more colorful, and can drop all their leaves suddenly; night comes sooner, fruit falls to the ground. . .it seems like everything is stopping its growth, getting ready to rest, making way for winter. It is the signal that the end of the year, the end of the life cycle, is coming.

One way that the church responds to these rather gloomy feelings and themes is to transform Halloween into “All Saints Day,” also called “All Souls Day.” In Europe, and similarly in the Dia de los Muertos of Spanish-speaking countries, at this time of year the spirits of those who have passed on come back for a brief visit. The Day of the Dead altars (at home or at a cemetery) are covered with memorabilia and favorite foods to welcome them back. It is intended to be a friendly and comforting visit – and making the preparations bring up happy memories, and provide an opportunity to please our loved ones once again by showing how much we still care. Traditional Mexican figures of the dead (as skeletons) show them enjoying the afterlife – it seems like a perpetual party. Not a bad way to picture our eternal life with God. . .

We will be putting up a Day of the Dead altar on October 27 and November 3 – so please bring something to share, about someone you love who has passed away. It could be a photo or an object, or even food. The table traditionally is decorated with marigolds, whose sweet fragrance welcomes them home. We will also have a time on October 27 for you to make your own “milagro” – a picture or a few words thanking God for the blessings you have received. (“Milagro” means “miracle,” and helps us remember that the good things in our lives, and even the challenging things, are gifts from God).

Whether we remember those who have gone before us by placing items on an altar, making something creative, or by collecting photos or items we associate with them, the important thing is that we remember. God has given us a community of family and friends so that we can enjoy the blessing of serving others, of trying to live the best life we can, following Jesus’ example. This community also serves us when we are in need of support and comfort. God never intended us to live a life of faith alone; we have each other so that we may learn to be gentle, compassionate and loving. Let us remember the persons in our lives who taught us these things. Let us remember the persons in our lives who struggled, perhaps not always successfully, to be like Jesus. Let us remember, so that we may honor their lives, and give thanks to God who gave them to us. Let us remember, so that we may be more faithful.

–Rev. Naomi