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Halloween judging

What Does Halloween Mean to You?

Sunrise on a pumpkin patch
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Post first published on Saturday 30th October 2021 on GodspaceLight.com

When I was a child Guy Fawkes night on 5th November was the big fireworks thing.  Halloween was not really on the radar at all in the UK. When I started going to church I got introduced to the “Festival of Lights” children’s parties on 31st October, but it was still not a big deal really. Then when I moved to Belfast in 1996 I met Halloween in a big way. The road outside my house exploded with fireworks as soon as it got dark on 31st October and kept going for hours. We had only arrived three weeks earlier and wondered what we had let ourselves in for! There the Baptist church saw it as just a thing, though it was very much just an overload of fireworks. 

On returning to England three years later Halloween had grown and “trick or treating” was becoming a thing. The charismatic, evangelical churches were saying Halloween was wrong, evil, satanic, demonic, etc. Then I joined YWAM and lived in a community house filled with mainly American evangelical Christian families and was introduced to a different take of Halloween, where children were encouraged to dress up as scary creatures, garner sweets from strangers and see it all as a big thing. Without this introduction twenty years earlier my reaction to Lily Lewin’s post FreerangeFriday: Halloween Candy Prayers would have been that she was not a “proper” Christian. Knowing Lilly as I do, I know she definitely is a Proper Christian with capital P and C.  🙂

This got me thinking of how we box and judge other things and other people without taking time out to know the heart behind them;  “signed and sealed” as either good or bad. This led me to Matthew 7:1&2 where Jesus says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged ...”, which I thought I would look at in context. In the preceding verses, Jesus says that God cares for us so much that we are not to worry about anything. ANYTHING!! Then he goes on to say not to judge. Coincidence?   

My suspicion is that God knows we judge because we worry about things, about how we’ll be perceived, whether we’ll “get into heaven”, be “good” witnesses, etc, etc. We think we’re looking at others to “help” them but actually, we’re also looking and judging ourselves. Jesus says “in the same way you judge others you will be judged”. Many sermons talk about it being God who judges us by the standards we judge others, but I think Jesus might just be saying that in the way we box and judge others so we are boxing and judging ourselves. And living in fear because of that. 

As Christianity swept through Europe and into Britain many early Celtic Christians saw the pagan practices of the people of the lands they were engaging in. They were not afraid of what was going on or how they would be judged. They also did not judge the people but showed that they were “missing the mark” [which is what the word sin really means] then showed how to adapt what they were doing to show Jesus in all fullness.  

So for me this Halloween I am going to use it as a time to see where I am judgemental, where I miss the mark, and work out how I can change myself rather than looking outwards judging and trying to change my fellow human beings–whether professing Christians or not.

 A Festival of Light for myself that will sparkle out to those around me rather than the darkness of judgment.

Categories
Celtic spirituality change choice Godspace harvest St Michael

FEAST OF ST MICHAEL

Today, September 29th, is the feast of St Michael. Here are my thoughts on him.

This post was also published on https://godspacelight.com/2020/09/29/feast-of-st-michael/

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Photo by Guido Reni – http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/readArticle/257, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9571452

How do you see St Michael? One of God’s mighty angels? Or, in the UK, a clothing brand by a large department store? [Marks and Spencer’s St Michael’s range] Or as he is depicted in many paintings and church stain-glass windows, the white superhero spearing the brown devil?

Michael, the archangel, Saint Michael, appears all over the place. He’s not just in the Hebrew and Christian Bible, but also in the Quran and in neo-pagan literature, as well as  in countless poems, paintings, statues, music and jewellery. But wherever he appears, he is always strong and invincible.

In the Book of Daniel Michael, the archangel, appears to Daniel and says he is “the protector of Israel” (Daniel 10:13-21) and in Daniel 12:1 saying he will “arise again during the end of time”. In both the Book of Jude (1:9) and in the Book of Revelation (12:7-9), the Archangel Michael is stronger than Satan and defeats and banishes him. In the Quran Sura 2:98 says “Whoever is an enemy to God, and His angels and His messengers, and Jibrail and Mikhail! Then, God (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers.” Some Muslims believe that Michael is one of the three angels who visit Abraham (Sura 11:69).

Neo-pagan tradition has leylines, lines of spiritual energy that pass through various points on the land. The most famous one is the St Michael’s leyline; which goes from St Michael’s Mont in Cornwall, through Glastonbury Tor to Bury St Edmunds, Norfolk. There is another St Michael’s leyline from Skelling Michael, Ireland, through St Michael’s Mont, Cornwall to Mount Carmel in Israel.

In Alexander Carmichael’s The Carmina Gadelica, compiled during his travels as in the Scottish Highlands and Islands during the late nineteenth century, 29th September, the Feast of St Michael, was a time for great celebration; with feasting, dancing, visiting the ancestral graves, horse racing, and young people to find a partner. Ray Simpson says in Exploring Celtic Spirituality, every husbandman would give food to the alms-deserving as an offering to “the great God of the elements who gave him cattle and sheep, bread and corn, power and peace, growth and prosperity, that it may be for his abject, contrite soul when it goes thither”. Saint Michael’s feast day was seen as a day of promise to the young and a day of fulfillment for those older, and a day of retrospection to the aged. Carmichael says, “it is a day when pagan cult and Christian doctrine meet and mingle like the lights and shadows on their Highland hills.”

Around the same time Carmichael was gathering his The Carmina Gadelica, the Catholic church in Rome was under persecution from the King of Italy, and the pope wrote this prayer to St Michael.

St Michael’s prayer “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.”

So again I ask, how do you see St Michael? End time deliverer, patron saint of the harvest, the defeater of the devil, a great redeemer, a connector of power lines through the earth? Which one of these Saint Michaels do you want him to be? Or maybe, in these turbulent times, we need him to be all of these – to help us take joy in what we have reaped and what will fulfill us during these times (harvest), defeater of the devil/our enemies, one who can redeem the earth to its purpose, and able to connect the power of the earth to help redeem us from global warming, pandemics, etc.

These are times of great trial, times when we need to look above and beyond, times when we need all the help God has, but also time to rejoice in the good of what is being harvested. Perhaps we do need to stop and reflect and see this day as a day of promise to the young. A day of fulfillment for those older, and a day of retrospect to the aged. Let us pray the prayer but also rejoice and remember that St Michael, and God, are all these things.

REFERENCES:

“Celtic Christian Spirituality: An Anthology of Medieval and Modern Sources” by Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie  for the quotes from Alexander Carmichael’s The Carmina Gadelica

“Exploring Celtic Spirituality” by Ray Simpson