Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hallowe'en and the Vigil of All Hallows Eve

(re-post from 2009 with some additions)

"If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” -- Luke 11:36, ESV

The Vigil of All Saints, also known as All Hallows Eve or Hallowe'en, has been celebrated since 835 A.D. when All Saints Day was moved to its present date, November 1. All Saints' Day is the celebration of all who have walked the pilgrim pathway on the straight path, entering by the narrow gate. We can admire these saints and emulate their lives as we, too, journey this pilgrim pathway trod hard and fast by the footsteps of those who have traveled it before us.

However, Hallowe'en, the Vigil of All Saints, has been transformed from a night of fun and "well-mannered frivolity" to an evening that is dark, even dangerous. In my childhood, I remember Hallowe'en being a night of fun and neighborliness, and in our small mountain village, it remains so with several families providing small parties in their front yards for the parents to sit down around small fire pits and chat while the kids visit the houses on the street.

In our village, there's only one area with street lights and concrete curbs (nope, we have no sidewalks in our town--concrete curbing is the best we have, and even that's rare), and that's where most of the Hallowe'en activity is concentrated. In the middle of this area, the local church hosts a "Gospel Barn" in a large front yard with stories and treats for the kids while parents mill around, chatting and drinking hot cider.

After Trick-or-Treating, it's a wonderful night to curl up with the kids, a bowl of popcorn in our laps and a "scary" movie on TV, watching Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi. But Hallowe'en seems to have been co-opted by older teens and adults, and a distinctly sinister tone exists that didn't when I was a child (or perhaps I was merely oblivious to it).

As states:
While this autumn feast can be used for evil purposes, our culture celebrates it as an innocent night of begging and fun. We who believe in the light of the world can use it to celebrate the Light. "Hallow" means holy and the word Halloween refers to the night before the feast of all holies, or All Saints Day. Emphasize all things good, joyful and pure. Let your children know that they are "children of the light" called to walk in the light.

Remember, though, that All Hallows Eve is a distinctly Christian feast, and Fr. Bosco Peters posted the actual Hallowe'en liturgy on his website Liturgy New Zealand which I reproduce for our use below:

The Paschal/Easter candle, with the five nails for the five wounds of Christ 

All Saints' Vigil (Halloween)
(congregational responses are in bold)

Liturgical Colour: White

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia! 

Let us pray.

God of glory, as daylight fades, we give you thanks for surrounding us with the brightness of the evening light; as you enfold us with the radiance of this light, so shine into our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ the light of the world. Amen.

Grant us, compassionate God, the lamp of love which never fails, that it may burn in us and shed its light on those around us, and that by its brightness we may have a vision of that holy City, where the true and never-failing Light lives: Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

God of the universe, you are the source of life and light: dispel the darkness of our hearts, that by your brightness we may know you to be the true God and the eternal light, loving and living, now and for ever. Amen.

Be our light in the darkness, God we pray, and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Eternal God, who led your ancient people into freedom by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night: Grant that we who walk in the light of your presence may rejoice in the liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Any of the following may follow: Evening Prayer, Night Prayer, readings, a sermon, baptism, the eucharist. A Renewal of Baptism may be used at an appropriate point.

A Renewal of Baptism
I invite you (to stand) to affirm your commitment to Christ and your rejection of all that is evil.

Do you believe in God the Father?
I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Those who are baptised are called to worship and serve God. From the beginning, believers have continued in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.

Will you commit yourself to this life?

I will, with God's help.

Will you forgive others as you are forgiven?

I will, with God's help.

Will you seek to love your neighbour as yourself, and strive for peace and justice?

I will, with God's help.

Will you accept the cost of following Jesus Christ in your daily life and work?

I will, with God's help.

With the whole Church will you proclaim by word and action the Good News of God in Christ?

I will, with God's help. (NZPB p. 390)

Let us give thanks to God.
It is right to offer thanks and praise.

We thank you God for your love in all creation, especially for your gift of water to sustain, refresh, and cleanse all life.

We thank you for your covenant with your people Israel; through the Red Sea waters you led them to freedom in the promised land. In the waters of the Jordan your Son was baptised by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit. Through the deep waters of death Jesus fulfilled his baptism. He died to set us free and was raised to be exalted Lord of all.

We thank you that through the waters of baptism you cleanse us, renew us by your Spirit, and raise us to new life. In the new covenant we are made members of your Church and share in your eternal kingdom.

We pray that all who have passed through the waters of baptism may continue for ever in the risen life of Christ. Through Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all praise and thanks be yours, Redeemer God, now and for ever. Amen. (cf. NZPB pages 385-386)

God our creator, the rock of our salvation, we thank you for our new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, for the forgiveness of our sins, and for our fellowship in the household of faith with all those who have been baptised in your name; keep us faithful to the calling of our baptism, now and for ever. Amen.

A Blessed and Safe All-Hallows Eve to you and yours, my blogging friends!!

In God's Holy keeping,

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