Sunday, October 29, 2006

Time Memorials (part 1)

"Like the proud mother who is thrilled to receive a wilted bouquet of dandelions from her child, so God celebrates our feeble expressions of gratitude." ~ Richard Foster~

My question is: Do we make the effort to celebrate our gratitude to God at all? Is it part of our spiritual disciplines?

Time was when Christians understood that we need special seasons of gratitute to help us to mark and remember the mighty works God has done for us. Not only was it part of a personal spiritual discipline, but it was part of a communal discipline of gratitude and cultural dominion.

The Church calendar is an amazing combination of marking God's wonderful works in the seasons when they probably happened, and of replacing pagan holy days with the memorials of the True God's interventions in time and space. The Christian holy days give those pagan time marks the meanings they ought to bear.

Two of the most famous replacements are just around the corner: Halloween and Christmas.

For many pagan European cultures, October 31 or thereabouts represented a time when the realms of the living and the dead were open to each other, because it is the night when the day and the night are of equal length, but the night is lengthening. It has often been a night of real fear - and not merely a fear of roaming mischievous teenagers. Even today, Wicca adherents are warned not to despair on this night when they think of loved ones who have died.

The Christian Church replaced this Day of the Dead with All Saints' Day. On this day, Christians remember and honor the heroes of the Faith - the ones who bore many sorrows, who inspire and encourage us in our own sorrows, who resisted evil at their own peril, who were faithful unto death. There is not even the slightest danger of despair in this memorial, for these wonderful role models were sustained by the same God who upholds us.

We remember that even though it looks as though the Darkness will win, we have a mighty God who will light our way throught the darkest night, the longest winter of the soul. And we remember that our God has triumphed over the old gods and powers of darkness which terrified our forefathers.

The practice of sending children out to frolic dressed as those defeated powers is a mockery of those powers. It is God's people dancing on the graves of defeated and discredited gods. We have nothing to fear from those old powers. It is like Miriam and the women of Israel dancing on the heaving shores of the Red Sea, singing of the drowning of Pharaoh's armies as bits of the chariot harnesses washed up at their feet. Trick-or-treating may be viewed as a sort of 'plundering the pagans'.

Trick-or-treating may not be the best way, in our evil day, to celebrate this holy day. But the holiday will not have any beneficial effect unless we express it, unless we tell these tales to our children and teach them what this day means to those who love the LORD.

Many Christians remember the heroes of the Faith particularly in the historic movement to preserve a commitment to the truth of God's Word: the Reformation. October 31 is the day when Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church, sparking the Reformation.

We celebrate Reformation Day by
  • dressing as heroes of the Faith from every era and telling their stories in a Parade of Saints,
  • letting the little ones play 'Nail the Theses' on the door,
  • reflecting on our aspirations as families and creating Coats of Arms to express them,
  • exploring the wonders of moveable type,
  • feasting a la 16th century,
  • treasure-hunting for 'contraband Bibles' while the Pope's men hunt for us,
  • reinacting the trial of Luther at the Diet of Worms,
  • and singing the great hymns that sustained the church through those dangerous times...
What will you offer in gratitude to your LORD for all His benefits? Will you refuse to celebrate at all? Or will you seize the day to make a memorial of God's goodness, a time to remember and to give thanks for christ's triumph over His (and our) enemies?
If you would like to pre-order a Reformation Day Celebration Kit with instructions, scripts, recipes, invitations, costume ideas and more, send me an email with "Reformation Day Kit" in the subject line.

Next time: Time Memorials (part 2)


Camy Tang said...

I liked how you tied in the quote with Halloween. It's a good practice to use these holidays to remember God's truth rather than being caught up in the world, to show our love for God rather than our love for society or cultural norms.

Kim Anderson said...

I like that: "show our love for God rather than our love for society or cultural norms."

You're right. Holidays should remind us what our priorities are.

Sunydazy said...

Interesting take on the quote. I enjoyed reading your post. I look forward to reading part 2.

Loni said...

Though I wrote it in a different post, I also wrote on halloween. Thank you for sharing, and for working this into today's quote.

Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

Always good to come here, Kim....
"Do we make the effort to celebrate our gratitude to God at all? Is it part of our spiritual disciplines?"

Yes... that is the crux of it... thinking on these things and further exploring them in my dark corner in the next week...

Always blessed by Mother-Lode...
Blessings on you...
Ann V.

Becky said...

Is gratitude part of our spiritual disciplines? I am stung by your probing question, for all too often I am guilty of not practicing this all important spiritual discipline. Thank you for the timely reminder.

Nic said...

How very cool is that!

I totaly agree that the holidays and seasons used to be a way of our marking times to formaly give thanks to our Creator.

Our church has a Fall Festival on halloween to detract from the macabre celebration and debacle of the occult that halloween has become. My daughter has never celebrated halloween and at the age of 5 she says that the Fall Festival is much better than going door to door for candy. For one thing, we have all the cool stuff like face painting and moonwalks and a petting zoo and good food and Biblical games such as "pin the Armor of God on the soldier". LOL! Children are encouraged to wear costumes but nothing evil or scary, instead more along the lines of heros, historical characters or Biblical characters. It's great fun for all involved!

iza said...

Kim, I found your blog are very informative. I hope you don't mind I've bookmarked your blog for my future reference.

Cancer Type

Kim Anderson said...

Not at all! I'll enjoy visiting you soon, too.

Sissy B. said...

How have I missed these?????????


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