Halloween,” the psychologist explained, “is a creative way of dealing with our deepest fears by putting on a scary mask, a costume, and making fun of our fear that something horrible lurks in the dark.” If that’s true, Halloween is a sad trivialization of the church’s All Saints Eve, a pitiful attempt to lay aside our deepest fears merely by mocking them.
“My mother attempted to reassure me, when I would wake terrified of the night, ‘Honey, there’s nothing to fear in the dark,’” recalled a friend. “After I lost my job, endured my daughter’s terrible illness and my husband’s infidelity, I now know—Mom was wrong.”
Christians do not deny the darkness. We admit the reality of evil and pain even in this often beautiful world. We are able to be truthful about the forces that lurk because we have been let in on the last act of the play, the final chapter of the story, the outcome of the battle.
When Revelation 7 lifts the curtain on our ending, we catch a vision of the world when God at last gets what God has always wanted. In the end, when all is said and done, when the forces that cause us sometimes to suffer and weep are defeated, the once-crucified Lamb shall reign “at the center of the throne.” Every fear defeated, every tear wiped away, not because of our creative denial of the darkness but rather because of the victory of the Lamb.
We don’t have to don a happy-face mask and make fun of our fears. We have a story about where this wonderful, sometimes terrifying life is headed. At the end we do not find fearful oblivion, evil’s triumph, eternal tears. In the end, God.
Let the good news of tomorrow’s All Saints Day be your comfort today and into eternity.
Lord Jesus, we know that you love us, and that keeps us going. Amen.
The texts remind us that human decisions, relationships, communities must be rooted in the reality of God. In his vision recorded in Revelation, John sees all communities, all nations, shouting before God’s throne that salvation comes only from God. The story of the crossing of the Jordan in Joshua 3 illustrates this principle: apart from Yahweh’s grace, Israel’s life could not be sustained. Paul does not deny an authority due him because of his previous relations with the Thessalonians. At the same time, he can reverse the image and speak of himself as an orphan when separated from these people (2:17). The possibility of mutuality emerges out of a clear acceptance of the authority of the gospel. The scribes and Pharisees are singled out in Matthew 23 for aunting their positions and for engaging in pious activity so as to be praised and courted by others. Their craving of honorific titles illustrates their failure to acknowledge the empowerment of Jesus as teacher and God as Father.
• Read Joshua 3:7-17. What miracles have you seen God perform lately in your life? in the life of a friend?
• Read Revelation 7:9-17. How do you reconcile a God of judgment with the writer’s statement that “God will settle for nothing less than a standing-room-only heaven”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13. How is the word of God at work in you?
• Read Matthew 23:1-12. When have you been humbled in being faithful to Jesus’ call on your life? Is being humbled a sign of true servanthood?
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