All Hallows Eve. That's where we get the word "Halloween." Tomorrow is the feast of All Saints when we remember and celebrate all those who are in heaven. It's a holy day in the Catholic Church when all Catholics attend Mass and honor the saints who are models of Christian virtue and perseverance. So how did the eve or vigil of All Saints Day become associated with goblins and ghouls? The simple an-swer is that if you believe in God and Holy Scripture, then you also believe in the reality of evil in the world. The devil and his army of demons contest for our souls as the "principalities and powers" de-scribed by St. Paul (Ephesians 6:11). But today a lot of people don't believe in the devil anymore. Evil has become just one more outdated idea like the flat earth. In America, the Puritans made it illegal to celebrate Halloween, mostly out of their anti-Catholic prejudices. Anything associated with Catholic be-lief or practice, like the holy days of worship, was outlawed. The popular customs we associate with Hal-loween, like carving vegetables and lighting them inside with candles and celebrating the night before All Saints Day are largely Irish Catholic traditions brought to this country with the immigrants.
With diminishing cultural beliefs in the reality of evil and the suppression of Catholic beliefs and practices, Halloween had all but disappeared in America until 1923 when a novelty company in Fram-ingham, Massachusetts began to market costume kits and instructions on pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating that quickly became popular. Over the following decades, Halloween became a secular holiday that most families embraced. Unfortunately the rich, instructive faith history of the holiday has been ig-nored, forgotten and even rejected outright. If we relegate goblins and demons to the real of mere su-perstition or harmless diversion, we empower evil. Satan's influence in the world grows greater when-ever he can convince someone that he doesn't exist. We are still engaged in the battle against him, but instead of calling him by name, we attribute evil to social causes like a bad childhood or poor interper-sonal skills. And so we don't confront evil with the truth of Christ crucified anymore. This truth is at the heart of what we celebrate on All Saints Day.
My Catholic faith teaches that evil is rejecting God. It is a real force that can have very real and eter-nal consequences for those who choose to turn away from the Lord. Just as heaven is a real place, hell is also real. Both are everlasting. We choose hell over heaven when we reject God's love for us. Saints are people whose hearts are filled with God's love and grace and who consistently chose God's truth over the lies of the evil one. They lived in the joy of the Lord, not in the anxiety and fearfulness, which Satan wants for all of us. While we believe in the reality of demons and fallen angels, we don't fear them be-cause we live in the power of the risen Christ. Some Christian parents are hesitant to allow their chil-dren to dress as witches or devils when they trick-or-treat. Certainly this is a decision each family must make for themselves. But Halloween is a great time for parents to answer their children's questions about goblins and devils and to reassure them that God's love is more powerful than anything "spooky." Jesus is our Light and when we follow Him, the darkness of the world is dispelled. God hears their prayers and never lets any of His children walk without His loving protection.
So set out your jack-o-lanterns and thank the Irish Catholic immigrants whose traditions we imitate. Enjoy the evening with your children and be generous with all the little tricksters who come to your door. Most of all, remember that tomorrow's light brings with it a holy day of prayer and thanksgiving in remembrance of the servants of God who have shown us the way to heaven. These saints are our broth-ers and sisters in faith and their lives are examples to us of how to love and serve God with humility and joy. These darkening autumn days hold within them the bright light of All Saints Day and the greater, uncreated light of Christ, our Savior.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do Thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God,
Thrust into hell Satan and all the spirits
Who prowl the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.---Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
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Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
Our church family was devastated, shocked and bewildered by the accidental death of our beloved James “Chubb” Blevins on Monday, October 22. As we interacted with him on Sunday, we had no idea those would be our last memories of him on this earth. He is survived by his wife Linda, a daughter and two sons, grandchildren, 3 sisters, 3 brothers and a large number of nieces and nephews. We extend our deepest sympathy to them. The funeral service was on Saturday. Our church family prepared and served dinner for the family after the services. Chubb’s smiling, friendly personality will be missed along with all the things he did around the church behind the scenes. You only had to mention a need for repair or maintenance one time and he would be right on it. We’re so glad we have the assurance we will see him again.
We had a good day on Salem with several visitors in the morning service. We trust they will come back soon. It was good to have Linda Blevins and Laura and Jack Pennick with us. Laura is Chubb’s daughter. They will be returning home to Kansas on Monday. We wish them safe travels.
The flowers in the sanctuary on Sunday were placed by Linda Blevins, in memory of Chubb. They were beautiful. Sunday was the last day for our contribution to the “load the truck” for the Georgia Bap-tist Childrens’ Home.
On Saturday, November 3 from 2 to 4 will be the fall festival for the youth. At 6 p.m., there will be a chili cook off pitting the men against the women. This should be fun. This is a fundraiser for the youth and the charge is $3.00 per plate. There will also be a bake sale so look for some good desserts.
We were sad to learn of the death of Holly Stockburger last week. She had fought so hard against the cancer and kept praying for a miracle of healing. She received her healing and is in a much better place than we are. She is survived by a host of family and friends. A memorial service was held at Ringgold United Methodist Church on Thursday evening. Our prayers are with her husband, children and other family and friends.
On our prayer list are James Davidson, Mary Eslinger, Brenda Callahan, Janie Arch, James Johnson, Rev. Wayne Hamrick, Archie and Susie McNish and others.
Sunday, November 11 will be our annual Thanksgiving meal after the morning service and com-memoration of the gift of the Ronald Watts Memorial Building by his parents, George and Geneva Watts. Make plans to be with us.
Happy birthday to Tiffany Bowman on November 4, Reba Dotson on the 7th, Phyllis Johnson, Terry Bramlett and Steve Ensley on November 8.
Congratulations to Steve Ensley who was recently honored by McDonalds Corporation for 40 years of service.
Sympathy is also extended to the family of Charles Harris who passed away on Saturday. He was a cousin of Alvin Kittle. He and his family were members at New Liberty when I was growing up there.
Don’t forget to set your clocks back this weekend as Daylight Savings Time ends.
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
Sunday was a great day and the Lord really blessed.
Bro. Stringer wasn’t able to go to church on Wednesday night. He had a fall at Memorial hospital on Tuesday night and he was really shaken up over that. Thank the Lord he didn’t hurt his knees.
We had a good turn out for the fall festival with plenty of games, fund and candy for each one. And we all enjoyed the hot dogs.
Our sympathy goes out to the family of Mrs. Josie Presswood. She passed away last Sunday and Bro. Stringer had her services at Ponders Funeral Home on Tuesday. Her son, Winston, went to the funeral home and walked in and had a seizure and had to be taken to the hospital. He was admitted for two days so really pray for him. He missed the funeral.
There is so much sickness and tragic deaths. There was a terrible accident on the interstate Friday. Mrs. Stockburger lost her battle to cancer. That family sincerely needs your prayers.
Pray for Carolyn Motley West, who is battling with cancer now. Steve Norman’s mother was taken to the hospital on Friday. Pray they will find her problem; she is losing a lot of blood.
Continue praying for Jerry Clark, he is still in Memorial hospital and is very low at this time. Carolyn Motley West is very low at this writing. Just pray for all the sick.
Happy birthday wishes to Chris Clark on Oct. 29th. Also Anita Stringer had a birthday on Oct. 25th.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
We were glad to have Bro. Terry Ellis and his wife in the Sunday morning service. They are with the Rock of Ages Prison Ministry. Also thankful for the other visitors and happy to have them in our ser-vices.
We are glad to have Carolyn Denton back in the services after her knee surgery and Bill and Denise Zinkeler after their bout with the flu or whatever it was that they have both had lately. Jewel Mitchell is better but she may have to have another shot before she is over this back pain.
We missed Dorothy McAllister, Alma Bryson, Lula Petty and Margie Sellers in our Sunday School Class. Since we are so few in number in the ladies class we went in with the young ladies and heard Joy Holcomb teach.
Wednesday is Halloween, be safe if you are out. Several of the churches are having treats for the kids, which is much better and safer than going trick or treating.
Don't forget to set your clocks back this Saturday night so you will be at church at the right time on Sunday morning.
We send condolences to the Stockburger family in the death of Holly. To the Hamil family in the death of their loved one. To the Chub Blevins family in his sudden death and to the Wooten family in the death of Julia Margaret Wooten. Please remember these when you pray.
Remember all these that are in the path of this storm that is hitting the East Coast. Others on our prayer list this week are: Charles Black, Doris Pitts, Bill Pitts, Ellie Pitts, Lula Petty, Louise Clark, Thur-man and Norma Headrick, Jimmy and Joyce Blassingame, Bernice Orr, Emma Lou Brown, Edna Allen, Johnny Chapman, Gladys Holsomback, Susie and Archie McNish, Cody Silvey, Jan Elliott, Susan Brown, our military, our missionaries and a special prayer about the election that is coming up soon and who you should vote for.