The week ahead will likely be filled with adorable costumes, carved pumpkins and candy galore. Halloween is nearly here, and for many it's a much-beloved time of celebration.
Yet between all the delightful costume parties and trick-or-treating, please don't miss out on two other occasions worth honoring this week! Reformation Day (Thursday) and All Saints' Day (Friday).
I paid nearly no attention to either of these days until I became a pastor, and now I believe both are well-worth noting. Here's why.
In Germany about 500 years ago, there was one primary form of Christianity being practiced. This expression of the faith had many great characteristics.
A man named Martin Luther felt that in addition to the positive qualities of the faith, there were also some key areas worth reexamining. Eventually, something called the Reformation began.
At its core, Reformation Day is not about denominational pride. It's a day for everybody, regardless of church home. Instead, what I find most compelling about Reformation Day is the way it provides an opportunity to celebrate the reforming activity of the Spirit of God.
We get a whole day to celebrate the way that God's Spirit calls us all into a lifelong pattern of reforming! The Reformation wasn't a one-time historical event. It's a forever adventure. As individuals, congregations and organizations, we are invited to continually reform.
Whenever God's grace, love, and passion for justice are not the primary focus, we need to check in and ask, "Where is God inviting a re-formation to take place today?"
Thankfully, we are moldable. We can be reformed on an ongoing basis. The Great Potter can reshape us and all our earthly institutions. People, powers, and systems are not etched in stone. They are capable of transformation, and that's worth celebrating on October 31!
All Saints' Day
The meaning of All Saints' Day varies broadly throughout the world. One widely-shared understanding of the day is that it is a time to honor people who have died, either recently or long ago. As we commemorate those who are deceased, we do so knowing and trusting that they remain safely in God's care.
There are many ways to honor All Saints' Day, and it's something I encourage you to consider. Some churches have special worship services. There are other folks who prefer to set aside some time for prayer and meditation at home.
Some possible strategies for honoring the day include lighting candles in memory of those who have died, reading some Scripture, and praying. Nov. 1 can also be an intentional day to share stories and reflect on the special people who have impacted our lives but are no longer with us on earth.
Grief is an ocean that ebbs and flows. Sometimes the waves of loss rage and crash. Other times the sea is peaceful and calm. All Saints' Day can serve as a bridge which helps people connect their honest grief and their deep faith. It's a whole day in which we recognize that loss is real. Death is real. And hope and eternal life are, too.
The coming days provide a variety of opportunities to both celebrate and reflect. I pray your schedule provides a bit of time for both.
The Lady Pastor is a weekly column by Emily Carson, a Lutheran pastor in Stewartville. Visit her blog at: theladypastor.com.