Here’s a story for Halloween: Wal-Mart is selling coffins. Prices range from a “Mom” or “Dad Remembered” steel coffin for $895 to a bronze model which costs $2,899. Today’s BBC reports that we can pay for our caskets over 12 months at no interest; our coffin can be dispatched within 48 hours.
In another sign of the times, children across the country are being told they cannot wear scary costumes to today’s Halloween parties. According to this morning’s New York Times, Little Bo Peep would make the cut, but the staff she used for her sheep would have to go. Ironically, children at the Walt Disney Elementary School in Burbank, California cannot wear masks to their parade. No Mickey or Minnie-what would Walt think?
“Halloween” was originally spelled Hallowe’en, shortened from All Hallows’ Even (or Evening). October 31 is the eve of All Saints’ Day, observed every November 1. Also called “All Hallows,” the day celebrates all the saints of Christian history. In the Catholic Church, All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation, which means that all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day. (In America, Catholics are exempt from the requirement when the day falls on a Saturday or Monday.)
Despite its secular nature today, no day has been more significant in Christian history than Hallowe’en. On the Eve of All Saints’ Day in 1517, an obscure monk living in the small village of Wittenberg, Germany posted a statement on his church’s front door. The door was a community bulletin board; since the entire village would pass by it the next day for worship, he knew his paper would be noticed. What he did not know was that it would change the world.
The monk was Martin Luther; his bulletin is known as the “95 Theses.” They are points for a debate he hoped to have with church officials regarding penance, papal authority and indulgences (the selling of forgiveness for sins). Luther was a loyal Catholic; he had no idea his act would spark a movement which would lead to the Protestant (“protester”) Reformation of the church. But it did.
You cannot measure the eternal significance of present obedience. The Apostle Paul could summarize his life purpose in a single statement: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). He knew that every act of faithfulness on earth is noted in heaven. Nailing a piece of paper to a door can change the world and lead to eternal reward. Even when the nails are yours.
What step of obedience is Jesus asking of you this morning?