"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Halloween is now a distinctly American holiday. It is second only behind Christmas in terms of the amount of revenue it generates for U.S. businesses in sales of candy, costumes, greeting cards, movie sales and other forms of entertainment. However, when Halloween began, it was a church observance instituted in the year 835 to counteract pagan practices. It was known as "Hallows Eve."
"Hallow" in old English means "holy" or "sacred" (as in the Lord's Prayer, "Hallowed by Thy Name"). "Hallow's Eve" or "Halloween" simply means the "evening of holy persons" and refers to the evening before All Saints Day, which is November 1 on Roman Catholic calendars.
However, some of the early practices associated with this holiday were questionable. For example, people were taught that by paying a fee for a Halloween viewing of relics from the Saints -- like locks of hair and bone pieces - that they could quicken their entrance into heaven.
Needless to say, this didn't set too well with some, including Martin Luther. And so on Halloween, 1517, he tacked his 95 theses to the door on the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Luther's timing was intentional. In his theses, he challenged the Halloween practice and many other teachings of the church.
Overall, Luther's teaching was that it was by God's grace, not by relics, papal pardons, or good works that we are saved. As it is written, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9).
On this "Hallows Eve" let us not only eat lots of candy, but let us also thank and praise God for his grace which sets us free!
Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Kip Banks, Sr.