Halloween: A Christian Perspective (Bob Calder)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Reformation Sunday
10:00 am     Oct 31, 2021
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Message & Children’s Time: The Rev. Bob Calder
Music director: Binu Kapadia        Vocalist: Linda Farrah-Basford
Elder: Gina Kottke

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting
L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening Words
L: Sometimes the world is a frightening place.
P: The Lord is our hope. Our trust is in God.
L: Sometimes we are confused by the many voices we hear.
P: The Lord is our hope. Our trust is in God.
L: Sometimes we wonder what the future will hold
P: The Lord is our hope. Our trust is in God.

Opening praise: Everlasting God
Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our strong deliverer
You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God.
You do not faint, You won’t grow weary
You’re the defender of the weak,
You comfort those in need,
You lift us up on wings like eagles
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,
We will wait upon the Lord,
we will wait upon the Lord (X2)

Songwriters: Brenton Brown/ Ken Riley©2005 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to Worship
L: God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
P: So we will not fear, even if the mountains crumble into the sea.
L: The Lord Almighty is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
P: Let us worship the Lord.

Prayers of approach and confession

God of Life: may your light shine on your people today, as it shone in each moment of history.

May the light of your presence inspire our lives, to praise you and recognize you,

  • as source of all creation,
  • as strength that sustains,
  • as sap that nurtures,
  • as wisdom that foresees,
  • as clarity that discovers,
  • as love that understands,
  • as mercy that forgives…

May the light of your presence, eternal and inextinguishable, shine on us now and forever until the dawn of your Kingdom, and be with us every day.

Lord of all, at times we feel that the demands of your righteousness are too hard for us to fulfill, so we rush off with this as an excuse and ignore your law.

Thank you Lord that You forgive our iniquity and remember our sins no more, and we pray that you will forgive us when abuse this forgiveness.

You give us the gift of grace: atonement in the blood your Son, yet we make it cheap without serious repentance.

We fail to see the power of your faithfulness.

We are your people, but do we know you as our God?

Lord, forgive the sins we know in our heart.

Save us Lord from the sins we hide.

We pray these prayers in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Response: I will trust in the Lord
African American spiritual public domain

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

God is tender-hearted and gracious to all and has forgiven you through your faith in Jesus Christ. Trust in God’s grace and be kind to one another, forgiving others as God has forgiven you.

We listen for the voice of God

Song: Open our Eyes Lord                                   445
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus,
to reach out and touch him and say that we love him,
Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen.
Open our eyes, Lord We want to see Jesus

Words and music: Bob Cull; © Maranatha! Music 1976; The Copyright Company Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Children’s time

Story: How we are like a pumpkin

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer 

Song: Hosanna                                   216
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.
Lord we lift your name with hearts full of praise; be exalted,
O Lord my God! Hosanna in the highest.
Glory, glory, glory to the King of kings!
Lord we lift your name with hearts full of praise; be exalted,
O Lord my God! Glory to the King of kings!

Words: and music: Carl Tuttle © Mercy/Vineyard, 1985. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Scripture readings
OT(NRSV): Deuteronomy 18 :9-13
NT(NRSV): 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Response: Jesus, remember me
Words: Luke 23:42 public domain; Music: Jacques Berthier, Taizé Community © Les Presses de Taizé, 1981. Used by permission of G.I.A. Publications Inc. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Message: “Halloween: A Christian Perspective”

English is an odd language.

  • There is no egg in the eggplant,
  • No ham in the hamburger,
  • And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.
  • English muffins were not invented in England.
    French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted, but if we examine its paradoxes we find that:

  • Quicksand takes you down slowly,
  • Boxing rings are square,
  • And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
  • If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what in the world does a humanitarian eat!?

English was invented by people and reflects the creativity of the human race (which of course isn’t a race at all).

Halloween is also a human invention.

My point in bringing this up is that just like our English language, most human inventions take some pretty weird twists.

I can see the Wright brothers who invented the first flying machine turning over in their graves as they see how their invention was used as warplanes dropped bombs from the sky.

Anything that’s evil, we like to blame it on something else e.g. Satan, Islamic fundamentalism, insensitive government cutbacks, lousy environment, green house gases, but rarely do we look into the human heart.

The evil practices from Halloween, for example, do not come from the devil.  They are most definitely from a human source.

As we consider a Christian response to Halloween, let’s go back in time and consider the world of the past, when there was no electricity to light up the night.

As Fall gives way to winter, snow arrives, days grow darker sooner, it’s colder, there are howling winds.

The atmosphere is frightening, foreboding.

A gust of icy wind blows, and the door of your hut slams shut- BANG! The spirits must be angry!

So naturally people are afraid, and with their best wisdom make sacrifices to the gods, the spirits, and they light up the night sky with bonfires to ward off the evil.

In ancient Europe, some took advantage of this fear and they made a fortune by collecting “treats” from fearful people to ward off evil (this is where we get the practice of trick or treating).

Let’s face it, fear of the unknown frightens people, so the human heart looks for an answer to a fearful, creepy world.

But sadly, the source of most of the stuff we really need to be afraid of comes from the human heart

  • Think about the Sept. 11 attack;
  • about the mass murders;
  • about a lone gunman.
  • Let’s think about Adolf Hitler
  • Idi Amin,
  • and Osama bin Laden.

Evil does not come from a day, or from any other obtuse source, it comes from within a sick human heart.

Halloween has no strange magic or power behind it, except for what we choose to believe in our heads.

Halloween’s hold on us is fear.

It is fear that grips the human heart.

Halloween’s deepest roots are decidedly human and come from the fear-filled practices of paganistic pre-Christian Europe, and unlike Christmas and Easter, it has kept those pagan roots, despite its now Christian name.

Christians didn’t simply speak out; they tried to institute a Christian alternative. That is why the church decided to have “All Hallow’s Day” or “All Saints Day”(November 1) and it was a celebration of all “the holies” – those people who had died faithful to Christ.

How do you reach a people filled with fear?

The church says give them faith – faith that conquers death, faith that has resurrection life, faith that curbs wild imaginations.

“All Hallow’s Day” was designed as a festival celebrating Faith over fear!

Today, Urban legends and superstitions abound and they play on people’s fears.

So do news reports of attacks, shootings and abductions.

The house Lydia and I bought when we moved to Edmonton was like a fortress when we moved in, with iron bars on the windows and security alarms of one type or another.

The previous owner lived in fear.

Many people say they are afraid to be alone or go out at night, alerted by the nightly sounds of sirens in their neighbourhoods.

Others are afraid there will be more terrorist attacks.

And if there are, no one knows where they will strike.

A man stood on the side of the road hitch hiking on a very dark night in the middle of a storm. The night was passing slowly and no cars came by. The storm was so strong, he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Suddenly, he saw a car come towards him and stop. The guy, without thinking about it, got in the car and closed the door. He suddenly realized that nobody was behind the wheel. The car started slowly.

The guy looked at the road and saw a curve up ahead. Scared, he started praying, and begging for his life to be spared. He was still praying, when just before the car hit the curve, a hand appeared through the window and turned the wheel. The guy, paralyzed in terror, watched the hand appear every time just before a curve. The guy gathered his strength, and jumped out of the moving car and ran to the nearest town.

Wet and in shock, he ran into a bar and asked for two shots of tequila, and started telling everybody about the horrible experience he went through. A silence enveloped the place when everybody realized the guy was crying and not drunk. About half an hour later, two guys walked into the same bar, and one said to the other, “Look, that’s the character who climbed into the car while we were pushing it!”

Are we going to let our fears and wild imaginations of the ghosts of Halloween control us?

How does one take a genuinely Christian view today of Halloween? Some have sought to ban it, but that plays into our fears and feeds them even more.

Should we celebrate it?

Some churches have built hell houses, a Christianized version of a haunted house that depicts hell as place of horror and torture using it as an evangelistic tool.

Other churches have a Harvest Festival or Biblical Characters Masquerade.

Because of COVID these options may have changed but in any case they don’t appeal to me. I would suggest that instead we respond first of all by being certain that we remember GOD.

There is no other god like our God.

In Exodus 7 and 8, the Israelites experienced God forcefully as He delivered them with miracles and power out of Egypt and in our O.T. lesson, they were warned not go the way of the nations whom they have conquered. The nations around them “…practice sorcery or divination…” (Deut.18:12-13) which diminishes the centrality of God. There is no other God and for Israel to go that route is surely a statement that they have forgotten that by His mighty hand He has conquered the powers of Egypt and all their opponents!

Today, people are going to psychics and occult fairs, cults abound – they are not a novelty thing anymore, they are bandied about as legitimate! In a culture where everything goes, we are swamped by false claims, cures, gurus, power-encounter stories and it seems we have little to fall back on to evaluate these claims. When people turn to the occult, they are saying, “God I don’t want to hear from you and I’ve got better sources of info, more powerful than you”.

Who are we to listen to?

Even rational people are unsettled by the unknown – some become superstitious, buy books on fung shui, or fill up their e-mail with urban legends. We have heard stories of athletes succumbing to such irrational beliefs.

Former Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs would only eat chicken the day of the game and used to draw a symbol in the dirt at home plate before batting.

That’s as superstitious as it gets.

Are we so easily duped into thinking superstition really works?

When are we going to be real and stop fooling ourselves and remember God?

In 2 Chronicles 2:5 Solomon says, “Our God is greater than all other gods.”

Who are we, by our choice, listening to?

Friends, God has spoken.

God’s revealed Word is Jesus Christ.

Let’s become informed, get the truth out thru God’s revealed Word, instead of stumbling in fear of the bogeyman.

We ought not see Halloween as a day of evil. The fact is every day is evil, which the Bible says it is.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Look at the everyday evil: wars, violence in sports, murder on the streets and slander in the workplace, the list goes on and on. Don’t make one day more evil than any other; each day is evil enough as it is!

Not only has God spoken, He has real power.

Evaluate and remember who has power over death that Halloween “celebrates”. Note that despite all the detestable things the other nations did, none, with all their voodoo powers, could match the power of the God of Israel.

There is a good illustration in Exodus 7 and 8, the story of the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh’s magicians. Why do you suppose Pharaoh’s magicians could not reproduce gnats, as recorded in Exodus 8:16-19. Pharaoh’s magicians could make frogs come onto the land, but they couldn’t create gnats. It should have been easy to create them if they had supernatural power.

So why couldn’t they make those tiny things appear? There was simply no way the magicians could duplicate this particular miraculous sign. They knew it was by the “finger of God” vs 19 that Moses performed this plague. In Deuteronomy 18:22, we are told that we will recognize those who have real power because their words will come true.

Jesus said if he died, he would be raised up in 3 days.

Did it come true?

Yes it did!

The psychics make predictions, does everything they predict come true? No way! Otherwise, they’d be front page news!

People are so gullible, that’s how con artists make a living.

That is why Druidism, where we find the origins of Halloween, practically ceased to exist after Christian missionaries brought the freeing message of the love of God. People learned that Christ defeats the powers of death and destruction, with the real supernatural power of His resurrection life. If those Druids had real power they would have overthrown Christian beliefs. Druids would have super churches today but for all practical purposes they all ceased to exist because real supernatural power is the power of Christ.

We see it clearly in His defeat of death and darkness through His resurrection power!   He is the one who has defeated the horrors of the unknown!

A Christian response to Halloween should be first of all faith over fear. Placing our trust in God who has the truth, the power to back up His supernatural claims.

He has the power over death.

Next we need to profess rather than protest.

We can use people’s fascination about spiritual things, and being creatively equipped with God’s word, be prepared to gently and respectfully give an answer for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15) instead of letting superstitious fear of unknown take hold.

It’s not enough just to condemn Halloween!  That just makes us seem like cheerless condemning types.

Instead of protest, let’s profess – let’s have a real relationship with Christ, then worship Him as the Lord of our lives!

We should look at Halloween as a victory over the Vanquished.

Shall we be fearful of this day?

Definitely not!

Christ rules!

We are to grow strong in His grace, His word and then nothing will get us, not even the bogeyman!

Do you have the reality of the joy of Christ?

Have you lost it?

Do you live in fear?

Listen again to God’s word from the Apostle John, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”.

Of all people, Christians should be the most joyful and the least fearful.

The challenge is to use the creativity of God to joyfully celebrate the light and life He brought into this world, and in this way draw others to Christ.

This Halloween and everyday, even in the midst of COVID, let’s leave fears behind and live lives of faith and joy!

Song: All the way my Saviour leads me
All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well,

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! a spring of joy I see,

All the way my Savior leads me.

Oh, the fullness of his love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way,

Words Fanny Crosby, Music: Robert Lowery; both public domain

We respond to serve God

Prayer of Gratitude

Thank you, O God for the many guiding theological and spiritual insights that we have all received through the Reformation.

Thank you for the good transformations and reforms that were set in motion by the Reformation or by struggling with its challenges.

Thank you for the proclamation of the gospel that occurred during the Reformation and that since then has strengthened countless people to live lives of faith in Jesus Christ.

This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Words: Jacques Berthier; 1991 © Taize Community, GIA Publications Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Reflection on giving

We have been giving faithfully throughout the pandemic. This reflects our commitment to continue the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude. For those of you in the sanctuary. If you have offering envelops with you— simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service.

Response: Be still and know
Words and music: anonymous and public domain

Prayer for others and ourselves

O Lord You suffered and were tempted just as we are. Now, You come to the aid of those who are also tempted, For you are the support of your people. O Lord, protect those who trust in Your Name. Deliver them from Evil, and provide them with everlasting joy

O Lord, Sanctify our souls, minds, and bodies. Cast out our evil thoughts, Every impure idea, every wrong desire and memory, all envy, pride and hypocrisy. Enable us to turn to You, To call upon you with boldness and without condemnation with a pure heart, a contrite soul, and with lips that are holy.

Almighty Father, Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil, for Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, has conquered evil and death, illuminating even the darkest valley.
Therefore, we pray that you will Protect us from the enemy, Defend us from all evil, and give us the grace, to walk in the light of your Son, who lives and reigns, with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

God of heaven and earth, thank you for all Your people who serve you and glorify Your name. As we notice the celebrations around us, let us remember that Halloween’s basis is in You, that we may celebrate Your goodness in the world, this day and always.

Protect those who will be going out tonite. Help them to have a fun time.

Be with those who are sick whether at home or in the hospital. Lay your healing hand upon them. Help those who are struggling with COVID. May healing take place quickly in their lives.

Be with those who are troubled by doubts, those who seeking new or different jobs, those who are retired or anticipating retirement. Those who are lonely and those who support them. Those who are facing temptations.

We pray for Peter and the rest of the Birss family in the passing Mary Ann Birss this past

weekend. Look in mercy on the family and all who mourn. Give them faith in times of darkness.

Strengthen them with the knowledge of Your love. May they feel your loving and comforting hand resting on them.

Hear us now as we bring to you our personal thots and prayers in a moment of silent prayer.

Song: Lord Jesus, you shall be         vs 1,2,4    665
Lord Jesus, you shall be my song as I journey.
I’ll tell everybody about you wherever I go.
You alone are our life and our peace and our love.
Lord Jesus, you shall be my song as I journey.

Lord Jesus, I’ll praise you as long as I journey.
May all of my joy be a faithful reflection of you.
May the earth and the sea and the sky join my song.
Lord Jesus, I’ll praise you as long as I journey.

I fear in the dark and the doubt of my journey;
but courage will come with the sound of your steps by my side.
And with all of the family you saved by your love,
we’ll sing to your dawn at the end of your journe

Words and music: © 1987 Les Petites Soeurs de Jesus. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing
For all that You can do with us,
for all that You can do without us,
We give you thanks O God!
For all in whom Christ lived prior to us,
for all in whom Christ lives now with us,
We give you thanks O God!
For all the Spirit wants to use us,
for where the Spirit wants to send us,
We give you thanks O God!
Now may the blessing of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you all both now and forever more. Amen.

Response: God to enfold you
Words: J. Bell, G. Maule; © WGRG Iona Community, GIA Publications Inc. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​.  All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Music postlude

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Hebrews 13:6)


The Rev. Bob Calder retains the copyright on all original material presented by him. As far as the author is aware, the material presented without attribution is their own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

Posted in Recent Sermons.