As we enter into October, we will find ourselves at the end of the sermon series on the book of Romans. It has been a long journey that we began in mid April of this year. I have been encouraged by the positive feedback I have gotten from several church members and thankful that those who thought “Are we ever going to get done?” demonstrated grace and kept such thoughts to themselves. It has provided me with the opportunity to go back and dig into areas of belief that sometimes we don’t take time to visit enough. This sermon series also provided a challenge in presenting balanced differing views on some doctrinal issues in as objective fashion as I could muster. By the time this Newsletter is printed and distributed, we will have covered the fourteenth chapter of Romans. That chapter covers a sharp debate among the members of the Roman churches in regards to either partaking or abstaining from certain foods. The difference in how those foods or drink were regarded by church members was fodder for some strong debate and Paul’s primary goal seemed to be to maintain peace and communicate the need to practice Christian love by not passing harsh judgment on each other or causing those who were not in agreement to stumble. As I pondered what to write about for the month of October, I could not but help likening the debate in the Roman churches on this issue with something more contemporary in our life in twenty first century church life in Tacoma Washington. I am referring of course to the Christian debate on having our kids go out for candy on Halloween.
At the risk of being repetitious, I will repeat a quick summation that I noted two years ago. One view is that Halloween is linked to the Celtic pagan holiday “Samhain” which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or “the darker half” of the year. It was believed to be a time when the transition between seasons also provided a bridge to the world of the dead and the other world (fairies, etc). Some believed the dead would revisit families and often a place was set for them. The other view is that Halloween is linked to All Hallows’ Eve which is the day before “All Saints Day.” All Saints Day is a day in which all the Saints of the church are commemorated. Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in Saint Peter’s Basilica on November 1st in the mid eighth century to commemorate all the saints. The faithful would prepare for All Saints Day celebrations with prayer and fasting the day before.
The debate continues as to whether All Saints Day and All Hallows’ Eve were an effort to “Christianize” a pagan ritual or not. An argument persists that the Christian observances have no connection to Samahain other than falling on the same days. The argument is that Halloween (as Hallows’ Eve) originated and developed independently than the pagan ritual. However, history shows us that during the Samhain celebrations included games, disguises, going door to door and reciting verses in exchange for food. Does this mean that one included something appealing of the other or is there a more direct connection? The debate goes on.
I mentioned that this was a summation. There is a lot more detail in the arguments for one side of the debate or the other. In our early years as a nation, the Anglican and Catholic church had no issue with celebrating All Hallows’ Eve while the Puritans strongly opposed it. Centuries have passed and the debate continues. What has not changed are Paul’s words to demonstrate some grace and not be judgmental of those who practice something we feel is inappropriate. While we may argue that such practice weakens our Christian witness, we should be graceful to those brothers and sisters who do not feel they are violating their Christian faith by allowing their children to go in search of free candy. In like manner, if we are of a mind that there is no contradiction in allowing our children to participate in the ritual of such sugar treasure hunting, we should not insist that those who oppose such practice, have their children participate. Paul said in Romans 14:29, ”Do not, for the
sake of food, destroy the work of God”. Let us not hinder that work either for the sake of a few candy bars.
Knowing how strongly some feel about this subject, it is highly likely that one side
or the other of this debate may disagree with me. Perhaps both sides will. It’s ok, I love you anyway and still call you my brother and sister in Christ. I pray that you will think the same of me and of each other.
Have a blessed October,
From the Corner
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Special speaker from
Graceland Ministries on Oct. 14th
Steve Dorey from Poland
MIDDLE SCHOOL YOUTH GROUP
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Meet new friends....have fun....bible study......
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Men's Breakfast Saturday Sept. 8th