Wednesday, October 28, 2020
"Amid disquieting dreams in the night when deep sleep falls on men, fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? If God places not trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth!'" (Job 4:13-21)
Okay. I began reading this and expected, "Boo!"
As a child I grew up reading "Ripley's Believe It or Not - Ghost Stories." (See June 3rd posting). I also grew up with the movies Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween III, the Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, all kinds of B-horror movies at the Drive-in Theater that my older cousin snuck me into in the trunk of his car - I mean legitimately paid for (no worries - I ate my movie ticket price in over priced hot dogs and pop/soda). And then...the last movie of this genre watched...The Shining with Jack Nicholson. No blood and guts...just shear terror. As it would happen, I had a beautiful alpine luncheon at the top of Mount Hood in Oregon (Timberline Lodge) where they filmed some of this. Quite delightful. Except for those darn twins that kept showing up in the hallway. (Inside fright).
I say this so that reader knows that I am well-versed and an expert in all things scary. Actually, I stopped watching this stuff when I entered into ministry. I found that the real stuff was much more frightening than any Hollywood director could come up with.
As "All Hollows Eve" or "All Saints Eve" or "Allhallowtide" approaches I thought I would ejukate those of you who haven't researched this. Scholars are torn between two origins: Celtic or Christian.
In the Celtic tradition, this day was thought to be the time when the space between this world and the nether world was at its thinnest - where the spirits of the departed could easily cross over for a brief time. The idea of wearing a costume was so that the spirits would not recognize you and take vengeance against you. And...so that you could get free food from your neighbor to appease the "spirits." Bobbing for apples, roasting nuts, etc...were part of the fun. Except that they were intended as divination objects. So sorry for ruining that for everyone. Drench those apples in some caramel and nuts and it will be sanctified as God-honoring. Just say a prayer over it first.
In the Christian tradition, "All Saints Eve" can be traced to the 8th century under the rule of Pope Gregory III. Most scholars believe that it was a Christianization of pagan tradition (like several of our traditions, e.g. Christmas trees, Mistletoe, decorations, etc...) Instead of inviting the spirits of the dead, the tradition changed into a remembrance of the dead, especially those martyred for their faith. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Go eat some soul cakes with little crosses painted on them.
Most Protestants reject those religious traditions as unbiblical. But there is no denying the spirit realm and the respect one needs to have for it. As I read through Job this week, I was reminded once again that the scariest thing in this world is not a spirit that might show up in my dreams or...in my bedroom, but to stand before a righteous God with my unworthy works.