Scripture: Revelation 14:1-13
Key verse: (13) “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord,” says the Spirit, “they rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”
Reflection: Happy Halloween! In this day and age it may seem strange for the church devotional to begin with these words. In the culture wars some label Halloween as a celebration of the devil and a “dangerous dabbling in the spirit world.” While our culture has certainly distorted this holiday, its roots are actually found in Christianity.
Tomorrow is All Saints’ Day in Western Christianity, a day when we remember those who have died in faith and celebrate the connection between the earthly church and the church triumphant. This day has been recognized in Western Christianity since at least the 8th century of the common era. We will give thanks for all those members of our congregation who have died in the past year this coming Sunday in worship.
Another name for All Saints’ Day is All Hallows’ Day—to honor those “hallowed” in our lives. The night before All Hallows’ Day is All Hallows’ Eve—from whence we derive the word “Halloween.” In Christian tradition this night has been a vigil in preparation for All Saints’ Day. Like other Christian holy days, (Christmas, Easter), over time it has blended with secular celebrations, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with Christian faith. Yet, as Christians, we recognize that faith offers a distinctive view of such holidays, reminding us of their root in holy days.
At a graveside service the central moment of the liturgy is the committal. Traditionally these words are said as the pastor places his or her hand at the head of the coffin: “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to almighty God our brother/sister, and we commit his/her body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” And then the final verse of today’s reading from Revelation is said, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, says the Spirit. They rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
On this All Hallows’ Eve, may we take a moment to remember all those in our lives who have gone to the church triumphant. May we endeavor to remember the best in them, that they might inspire the best in us. Ultimately, that’s what All Hallows’ is all about!
Prayer: Eternal God, neither death nor life can separate us from your love. Grant that we may serve you faithfully here on earth, and in heaven rejoice with all your saints who ceaselessly proclaim your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (from the Book of Common Worship)
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].