The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. (Psalm 89:11)
Today is All Hallow’s Evening; Halloween. The commercialized version we celebrate today originally descended from a combination of several traditions, the two perhaps best known being All Hallow’s Eve/Day (also known as All Saint’s Day), which was a Catholic celebration for saints who had died; and Samhain (pronounced Sow-un), a Celtic/Irish/Druid pagan observance.
As autumn draws to a close, death and decay surround us. Barren trees with spindly skeletal branches; dried-out leaves crunching underfoot like brittle bones; putrefying flowers; drizzle, muck, and dankness. The twilight of a cold, dark winter is ahead and the days are growing shorter as this side of the earth moves away from the sun. It was believed (and still is) that at the end of October, early November, the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, and spirits can cross over to haunt those they feel a need to torment or visit.
I propose that God has written the Gospel message into the winter and summer solstice, commencing with Halloween.
The Winter and Summer Solstice:
As autumn ends and winter dawns, the earth is at its farthest angle away from the sun. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, there is a White Witch who has cursed Narnia to an eternal winter. Everything is dead, frozen, frigid, unmoving. Plants can not grow, animals can do nothing but hibernate, and people struggle to survive. They live in fear and darkness and torment. Life is an eternal winter solstice.
Likewise, for those positioned at an angle farthest from the Son of God, whether by choice or circumstance, the veil between this world and the next seems thinnest because they are closer to the darkness, to the demons, to Hades. Their nearby presence is felt palpably, their whispers heard; one can sense their beckoning. In times past, this aura, these dark spirits, were interpreted as sinister ghosts; and traditions arose to either embrace or dispel these otherworldly interlopers.
In the land of Narnia, when Aslan the lion appears (who represents Jesus, the Son of God), winter begins to thaw and the summer solstice approaches. Snow is melting, brooks are babbling, flowers are growing, and the earth fills with warmth as its angle becomes closest to the sun.
In the same way, when a lost traveler turns to face the Son and gives his life to Jesus, his eternal winter can at last come to an end as new life grows within him: first as spring, and coming to fruition as summer.
“The White Witch?” said Edmund; “who’s she?”
“She is a perfectly terrible person,” said Lucy. “She calls herself the Queen of Narnia though she has no right to be queen at all, and all the Fauns and Dryands and Naiads and Dwarfs and Animals—at least all the good ones—simply hate her. And she can turn people into stone and do all kinds of horrible things. And she has made a magic so that it is always winter in Narnia—always winter, but it never gets to Christmas.“
The White Witch of this earth is Satan (literally, the Accuser), and he keeps us bound in an eternal winter. Yet if the light, the warmth and radiance of Christ the Son should shine upon us, we can at once be set free from these chains and embark upon a brand new life. A veil of another sort is lifted (2 Corinthians 3:16).
The Gospel message is shared every year between the winter and summer solstices for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
So as we pass through another Halloween, let us remember those who are trapped in darkness, for whom Halloween and winter never ends, and who long without satiation for the dawn of summertime. Let us not turn a blind eye to them from our cozy warm perches of privilege. If not for the grace and redemption that is freely given by the Son, we too would be shivering down in the cold.
Halloween, the day of death. Winter, the long Saturday. Spring, Easter Sunday.
Next Up: Pt. 2 The Great Migration