It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant. (Matthew 20:26)
All Saints Day is upon us once more. Church bells will toll to honor those who have died since the previous All Saints Day. Some will have a chance to light candles in memory of loved ones no longer with us in the flesh. The church provides a list of saints of the faith who are remembered on specific dates throughout the year. Most of us have a personal list of people we remember, especially on certain significant dates such as their birthdays, anniversaries, or death dates. The culture has dates set aside to remember certain public figures for their contributions – some deemed worthy of a national day of recognition.
Most of these people are honored and remembered because they spent their lives serving others. Our personal saints are most likely the people who raised us when were vulnerable children or mentored us later in life.
Though the media is full of references to Hallowed Eve – contracted to Halloween – we’ll hear few references outside worship spaces to All Saints Day. Children small and large, young and old will dress up in costumes, and wander about neighborhoods in search of candy from obliging neighbors on Hallowed Eve. Store sales associates, medical office personnel, restaurant staff and many others will dress in their favorite costumes for work. A spirit of playfulness and imagination springs forth for us all to enjoy. And it is fun. Lord knows, we can use a little fun and levity as a break from the constant stream of bad news and ill-behaved politicians attacking one another in their bids for our votes.
Though my participation in the Halloween activities is minimal at this stage of my life, I enjoy observing how others participate. Yet, I also feel weary and discouraged over all the hype — all the emphasis on shopping, sugar laden sweets, and artificial horror venues. We tragically miss the point.
Once again our consumer-based culture has managed to take a tradition established for one purpose and convert it into yet another revenue stream. A few will pause to reflect on loved ones who have passed from this world to another. The majority will be distracted by the focus on sale of costumes, decorations, and tons and tons of candy.
All Saints Day – a lovely tradition dedicated to remembering the special ones who cared for us in our vulnerable first years and inspired and influenced us in all the years since. For all the saints in my life, I am grateful and will be lighting candles in your memory this weekend.