All Saints Day is often overshadowed by the day right before it: Halloween. Halloween has been so commercialized that it’s original meaning and anticipation of All Saints’ Day has been lost. Halloween has deteriorated into another holiday in western culture where stores sell themed candy, children expect things handed to them for free, and adults feel the pressure of society for their child to have a “Pinterest perfect” costume. All Saints’ Day has been lost in a sugar high from all the candy consumed the night before and Jimmy Kimmel videos of parents pretending to eat all of their children’s candy. What happened? Where did All Saints’ Day come from and what is it’s connection to Halloween?
Halloween is actually three words all smushed together: All Hallow’s Evening. It was a night where some would pray loudly in the forest and ring the church bells to remember those who died for their faith. All Saints’ Day is to celebrate and commemorate those who have gone before us. It is a day set aside specifically to remember the saints of the church who poured our their lives for God and others; some to the point of death.
The saints of the church lived out a deep love for God. They did not live for their own glory or exultation, but lived so that God would be lifted high and the gospel proclaimed. All Saints’ Day does not exist to elevate the saints to divinity, but reminds people that all glory belongs to God. It serves as a reminder that out of the outpouring of God’s love people can’t help but spread the gospel.
1 John 3:1-3 reads as follows:
See what kind of love the Father has given to us in that we should be called God’s children, and that is what we are! Because the world didn’t recognize him, it doesn’t recognize us.
Dear friends, now we are God’s children, and it hasn’t yet appeared what we will be. We know that when he appears we will be like him because we’ll see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure. (CEB)
The Greek word used for “has given” is δέδωκεν (dedōken). It is a verb that is perfect and active meaning that this love was given in the past but is still active and effective in the present.
Imagine God in heaven with a bottomless bucket containing God’s love. God “has given” this love to us and as a result we are absolutely drenched! Every fiber of our being is saturated by God’s love to the point where we can’t help but draw attention to ourselves. As we begin to walk around we get others wet, we can’t help it, some around us are drawn to this love while others are repelled and annoyed by it. Some people are so annoyed that we are put to death for the love that we share.
That’s God’s amazing love. We can’t help but spread such love. it is a counterculture love and a love that the saints who have gone before lived out. For some it ended in their death, for some they never saw the fruit of their loving labors, and for some they lived long lives pouring into others without any expectation of anything in return. These are the saints who have gone before us, and lived out the love that was given to them by God. They ran the race before us, they handed us the baton, they are not our great cloud of witnesses, and they are cheering us on. We must realized that we are not alone. We have these amazing examples to follow. They lived out of the overflowing love given to them by God.
May we be found faithful. May we live out God’s love in this world no matter how counter-cultural, no matter the consequence, may we be humbly follow the way paved by the saints who went before us.