All Hallows’ Eve (AKA Hallowe’en) is most commonly thought of as being a purely secular day—kids and adults alike dress up in costumes; there may be candy, scary movies, parties and other festivities. Some of these practices have their roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain; a harvest festival which was associated with the circle of life and death, and the temporary blurring of the line between the realm of the living and of the dead.
But All Hallows’ Eve also has Christian roots. “Hallowed” is the word we use to describe God’s name in the Lord’s Prayer, and it means “holy” or “sacred.” All Hallows’ Eve—as the name implies—was the anticipation of All Hallows’ DAY, which is now known as All Saints’ Day. The church recognizes a number of particular saints throughout the liturgical year, but on this day we recognize them all—those whose names we know, and those whose names only God knows.
These exemplars of our faith are important for us as a church to remember and acknowledge—not because they were perfect, but because despite their human limitations, they exhibited extraordinary faith, dedication and commitment to Christ. We honour them because they are not only our spiritual ancestors, but because they are a sign of the promises to all of us in Christ, of eternal life in the presence of Christ’s resurrected glory. Many Christians will ask for their intercessions, just as we might ask a friend to pray for us.
These also belong to the Body of Christ, just as we fleshly believers do; this “great cloud of witnesses” are members of our communion, just as are those we can see and touch in the pews next to us. Let us give thanks today for all those who have gone before us, whom we will be united with someday, in the full glory of the resurrection.
Download service booklet here: Liturgy at Home Pentecost 23 All Saints October 31 2021