For the last two weekends, downtown Hays was haunted by the ghosts of Old Hays City. A cast of cowboys, sheriffs, dancehall girls, cavalrymen, business owners of “colorful reputation,” outlaws, an opera singer, and assorted spirits and scary creatures entertained sold-out tours as a fundraiser for renovation of the new Hays Community Theater.
Sporting a drawn-on beard with hat pulled low, I had a great time playing a character so far from my normal role.
Halloween is coming — a time looked forward to by many, and yet for some Christians, a source of discomfort. Halloween is a favorite for those who enjoy dress-up or go all out decorating for trick-or-treaters. For others, the holiday has the sense of giving approval to supernatural powers. People of faith choose to participate or not in this popular cultural event. Whatever choice you make, perhaps the more important question is, “What character are you putting on the rest of the year?”
The word Halloween (sometimes written Hallowe’en) is simply a contraction of All Hallows Evening. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say “hallowed be thy name.” Hallowed means set apart or consecrated. The verb hallow means to make or set apart as holy. But hallow also can be a noun, and it means a holy person or a saint. That’s where we get Halloween. Essentially it’s another term for All Saints Eve. The next day is All Saints Day.
In the church I serve, we will observe All Saints Day on Sunday. It’s a day of celebrating the communion of saints, a community made of all past, present and future Christians. In the saints, we see the light of God shining in and through them. So we name and light candles in memory of those who have died since the last All Saints, as well as those whose faithfulness lives on in our hearts and memories.
And yet All Saints Day isn’t just about those who’ve died. Yes, All Saints is a day when we recognize Christians who have gone before us, but it’s also a day of asking how we should live as saints now and how we intend to pass on the faith to future generations of believers. That’s what the Communion of Saints is all about. Does the light and love of Christ shine from within you? What character do others see in you? Blessed Halloween.
The Rev. Celeste Lasich is pastor at Hays First Presbyterian Church.