DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: Halloween is really about All Saints Day

This is a time of year to remember those who have gone on before us.

Rev. Josiah Hoagland
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo
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This past week many of us participated in a Christian holiday dating back to antiquity: All Hallows Eve, or better known as Halloween.

Halloween was part of a celebration that began on Oct. 31 and went until Nov. 2. This holiday, which in modern times has been named All Saints Day, was christened to commemorate the lives of the saints who have died and gone on before us.

Initially, the holiday was not meant to be spooky or scary, but instead a remembrance and solemn time of thanksgiving for the ground that was laid by the saints of old.

The date of when this holiday began is somewhat lost to the ages. Some believe it may date back to the time of the early church father Eusebius in the early fourth century.

Eusebius commemorated in writing the life of Polycarp. Polycarp was an early Christian leader and disciple of the Apostle John. Polycarp was known as a man of great hospitality and charity.


It was written by Eusebius that Polycarp made a meal for the Roman soldiers that came to his house to arrest and execute him. While on the stake where he would burn, Polycarp sang songs of praise to God. Polycarp and other Christians of old were truly deserving of the great honor of All Saints Day.

In our own lives it is important to spend time reflecting on those who have gone on before us. When I was a chaplain’s assistant deployed to Afghanistan, my unit had two soldiers who died in combat. I frequently reflect on their sacrifice to our country.

My mother was a dedicated nurse, mother and grandmother who died from cancer in her 50s. I often contemplate her own life and service to the church.

One of the most helpful reasons to reflect on the saints that have gone before us is that it is a reminder that life is short and we will someday die. Psalm 90:12 reads, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

In a world that often avoids the uncomfortable subject of death, we are often tempted to ignore our own mortality. All Saints Day teaches us these two important lessons: Our life on earth is short, so make it count; and there is a greater eternal reality waiting for those who have faith in Christ. Happy Halloween!

Sometimes, doing what God intends you to do may be a matter of life or death.

Rev. Josiah Hoagland serves as mission director at CHI-St. Joseph's Health in Park Rapids.
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