November 1, 2007

Reformation and All Saints Days

Halloween has its pros and cons. Moreso cons. Our church has people who've come out of Satanic stuff, so it's a tender issue. It is the one time a year one could dress up to be what one might wish to be, but I think we wear enough masks throughout the year.


Jesus said "I am the light of the world" and as Christians we know the end of the story: He's already won the victory over darkness. "Hallow" means "to make holy." Halloween is the eve of All Hallows Day or All Saints Day.

In all we do, God looks at the intentions of our heart.

 With God-in-our-midst we can enjoy fall decor and apples and pumpkins and corn, and love the candy and costumed people. And I'm sadly missing my scarecrow on my porch. I didn't make one this year like I often do out of old clothes stuffed with real straw. Friends knew the key to our house (when we lock it) would be in the shirt pocket.

In actuality, I remember that October 31st is Reformation Day - when Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis on the castle door. The thesis were asking the church to reform. The castle door was used as a bulletin board and he was asking people to debate. There's more to this story that's not usually told related to the castle door.
 Luther wasn't the 1st asking for reform. It had been asked for ages by various peoples, including many female "saints". The time was ripe for him to hatch the egg that had been laid.


The Muslim Turks were on the rampage. Many people in the Middle East were escaping into Europe - bringing ancient manuscripts. The Religious and Secular Enlightenment was a result of these manuscripts. People for the first time in Europe could see the original Greek and Hebrew writings (and art). There was a surge of language study. Also, the printing press was invented, with the Bible being the first book printed in the mid 1400's.


So people were finally able to read the Bible for themselves. Erasmus actually gave the Pope a Bible he had translated from the original languages and the Vulgate (remember I told you about Jerome?) side-by-side, along with his personal notes about where the church was wrong. (Erasmus and Luther debated a lot. Erasmus never left the Church, whereas Luther did, marrying a nun - Katherin.)


There's tons leading up to Martin Luther along with his own story that's too much to tell here. All I'll say is that with the Muslims pressing into Europe from Spain and the East - kings, Popes, and Lords were so preoccupied with keeping alliances for potential battle at their borders, that Luther was not burned at the stake for being a heretic.
 His Prince Frederick whisked him off after his trial to a hidden place. During that time Luther translated the Bible.
 (Watch the movie "Luther".)

What I like most about the story, is that Prince Frederick had a huge collection of Saint relics. Every November 1st, All Saints Day, he opened his castle doors for all Europe to come and (sight-) see (maybe buy relics/souvenirs! like we do when we travel!). People did come from all Europe and on the castle door was posted Luther's 95 Thesis for all to see.
 Because of people telling all they met as journeying home, and the printing press having printed Luther's Thesis, they say that all of Europe heard of the church reform list in 4 weeks!



Did Protestantism just take off from then? If you read history, no. Law was, that a country went as the rulership went. So like with England, you have about 2 centuries of war between the Church allowing any other form of religious practice. So we swing from a Henry to a Bloody Mary to an Elizabeth, etc. Mainland Europe was just as bad. Many massacres.




As to All Saints Day--from all over, all localities had stories of people who did unique things for God. Saints are people who hear the Gospel message and live it out in their culture, usually addressing a need. Without saints we'd not have many hospitals, schools and meeting-needs-institutions. Saints live very "whole-heart-edly" (would that maybe imply that many people live 1/2 heartedly?!) and often on a tight-rope over a precipice; and are often called heretics in their time. And remember that the Apostle Paul calls all believers saints.

There were so many stories, the church started researching and 'canonized' about 400 to put in the calendar. So all the thousands others were lumped on this day. This day was originally in April or May and the Parthenon was the gathering place. Because of too many people and not enough food, it was moved to Nov 1 because of harvest food availability.


My suggestion for this time is to go ahead and do costumes, but chose a saint or hero of the faith to dress as. Know their story and share it.

I've been a part of a small group that reads scripture in a "midrash" (Hebrew) or Lectio way. I often bring a table decor that's visually in sync with the calendar or season. Visual Imagery is just as important and needed as the Rational. So for this day, I like to fill a shallow clay pot with lots of varieties of candles standing in sand. Contemplative, metaphorical me watches as the many varieties of people (candles) burn together and eventually falling on one another, igniting one another, and melting together. Such a great visual of the community in Christ.
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