Between Halloween and All Saints’
The wisdom of the church’s calendar makes Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve), which we
observed on Sunday, a derivative of the day that follows it (All Saints’ Day), an occasion for remembering those who have gone before us in death.
I tend to think the national pastime of Halloween, with children venturing into the neighborhood knocking on doors that are unfamiliar but considered trustworthy, is a jewel in American culture, a yearly demonstration of our confidence in the idea that strangers can live in trusted community. As much as we like our carefully cloistered lives, we also like venturing out, and the interesting and even playful ways that unexpected people present themselves along the way.
The stranger, or the unexpected friend, both enjoy a rich history in our tradition of promising good things. Jesus tells a story in Luke 11 of a knock on the door at midnight by an unexpected visitor. “I pray you, give me three loaves of bread so I can feed my own unexpected visitor,” goes the parable. Halloween is, of course, all about a knock at the door by an unexpected visitor.
The life of generosity is a forward extension of Halloween beyond a single night of answering the door for a princess or goblin. It is learning to live our daily lives as those who are more and more open to openings, to inviting an encounter from somewhere outside of our predicted plans and familiar circles, and responding in friendship and welcome.
All Saints’ will be observed this coming Sunday, November 7th. In worship on that day, both at 9 and 11, we will remember those in the Laurel Heights family who have died in the past year. Those who die always leave behind their best expressions of love, hospitality, and welcome. They have shown us, in their faithful days, how to open to the knock at the door, even to the end, ready in Jesus’ name to offer what they have. Thanks be to God for their lives, and for the gift of a day to remember their gifts both to us and to the world.
Grace and peace.