Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

Today we celebrate the day when, 491 years ago, an obscure German monk and university professor nailed a paper with some statements to a church door. He never intended to pick a fight with church authorities. He just wanted to discuss whether it was really possible to buy and sell forgiveness. But in so doing, he unwittingly stepped on the toes of the Roman Pope. Many more writings followed on various topics. The light of the pure Gospel of the full and free forgiveness of sins in Christ was recovered for the Church. He was brought before a meeting of the emperor, princes, and church leaders and told to take back what he had written. And these famous words have echoed down the corridors of time:
"Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen."
And what do we about all this Halloween business on this day? Well, I used to be rather uptight about it. But I've loosened up in my "old" age. Maybe having a child in the house now has changed me. It's kind of fun to see her get all dressed up ... a cute ladybug last year, a beautiful Chinese princess this year (Mulan). Sure, all the ghosts and goblins and gore are pretty creepy. And there are certainly some pagan connections with this holiday, although in our culture that's pretty much gone by the wayside. Halloween has simply become a silly day for kids to dress up in fun costumes and get some teeth-destroying goodies. Sure, we ought to avoid the gruesome excesses of the day. But dress up. Have fun. Go get some candy. Greet the neighbors. Get ready for All Saints' (Hallows') Day tomorrow. And maybe take this night to thumb your nose at the devil.

I also like what Gene Veith suggests on his blog today:

Tonight, do not give candy out of trick-or-treat coercion or obligation, but as a free gift.

When you see people in masks, contemplate the masks of God; that is, the doctrine of vocation.

When you see our culture’s strange celebrations of death–all the gore, corpses, and graveyards–let it remind you of our Lord’s gruesome death on the Cross, His burial place, and His glorious resurrection.

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