SUMMONED TO THE SUMMIT: HALLOWED GROUND
IMPORTANT CALENDAR CORRECTION!
Life House Grand Opening Dinner
A grand opening where you will be able to see the space that will be used for our Life house maternity home. We will have dinner, worship, testimonies, fellowship, and a chance to join the mission, CLICK HERE to register!
“ I should be dissatisfied with a religion that was a pageant of nature; for I feel the soul, in Sir Thomas Browne’s noble phrase, as something other than the elements, that owes no homage unto the sun. But I am much more dissatisfied with a man, pretending to be a man of culture, who merely despises the ritual. I can never see a pageant of harvest without feeling that it is religious, and it gratifies me to think that I am feeling like the first Emperor of China. I call that being the heir of all ages.”
—G.K. Chesterton: "On Man: Heir of All Ages"
Ahoy all! I have written in the past about the myth of the divide between Sacred and Secular, simply meaning what we associate between "Church" and "Non-Church" activity of human enterprise, and I again begin with the same words of Chesterton on the "Pageant of Nature" because it is easy in contemporary Western Christianity to immerse ourselves in attitudes of Pietism, or holding our faith as fit for our homes and our churches only, and unfit for the halls of schools or government or the postal service. The Gospel, I should think, is sufficient in all things, and for all things.
Take music. Some years ago I found myself often combating a trend in church culture that music must have a "Christian" label in order to be embraced, basing the distinction of music again along "About Jesus" vs. "About Sin" lines, where this distinction is untrue. I have danced with my wife to great love songs. The same God who sent Christ to the Cross also created marriage and is Love. "Secular" music can defile bowers of romance just as easily as "Christian" music can (and often does) defile halls of worship. The distinction is in moral and immoral, God-honouring and God-dishonouring.
Which brings us to holidays.
I write this on All Hallow's Eve, which was deliberate on my part. There are many impassioned voices on this subject, and I don't aim to lay any to rest. It is worth noting in the case of any holiday that the very term "hallowed" means, as it does in the Lord's Prayer, to be set-apart, to be kept on higher ground, to be shoeless in the presence of. There are indeed hallowed aspects of this day as there certainly are pagan, but like most things, holidays too are not as simple as we often imagine. The challenge with Christian Discernment is to divide what is God's from what is Caesar's, not to burn Rome because Nero liked to fiddle with it ... and to burn Christians. He was pretty awful, but now he's dead.
All Hallow's Eve was once a night of vigil in remembrance of the Saints who have gone before us, in particular those who were martyred. November 1st was All-Saints Day, while the 2nd was All-Souls Day, a recognition of those who were yet to come to Christ; in other words, the day(s) was meant as recognition of both past and future of the Church, though now it is known as a demonic holiday ... largely because we let the enemy have it. Claims can easily be defended for either case. Autumn was chosen for the memory of the Saints because of the conclusion of the harvest. Likewise, it could just as easily be historically claimed that it was chosen for a pagan celebration because of the Equinox.
Folks, the rightness of the matter is not about the calendar date of the first "claim" to the day, and when we act like it is, when we bicker about the "origins" and "roots" of the holiday(s), we act as if spiritual ground is a matter of cosmic dibs.
Everything the Enemy has perverted was once made and declared good by our God. It belongs to Him, regardless of what pagan culture tried to make-believe it was their own. For a Christian to adopt their festivals and worship their gods, that is treacherous and treasonous for the Elect, but it is dereliction to abandon our posts on every field and foothold, also. Sometimes believers state that we ought not look at post-Scripture Saints, lest we worship the living temple rather than its inhabitant, but there are two problems with this:
First, that to turn blind eyes to human models of walking after Christ both denigrates that we are made to be God's imagers on this earth, as well as eliminating one of the central roles of a father, to model walking with Christ, as Paul told his parishioners to "follow him as he follows Christ."
Second, that to examine the life and lives of believers gone before is tantamount to idolatry. Most of the Bible are stories of how believers did or didn't follow after the covenantal promises of God, after all.
It is among the greatest tragedies in the Church today that we (often) remain so ignorant of our fore-bearers who before bore Christ's name (clever, huh?). To learn of Augustine or Livingstone or Ward or Edwards or Whitney is to witness examples of Christ-followers in eras closer to our own, and we need not endorse every aspect of a Saint's theology in order to see the example modeled. Much of our job as Christians, both as parents and as those who "walked before" the young is to demonstrate such a life lived in reality.
Back to Halloween
Certainly there is a large demonic aspect to Halloween. Many of you have probably heard lectures from me on the subject, but I have a different thought on the topic today, and fittingly, it doesn't revolve around Halloween at all, but rather on territory. You ought to know from my preaching that I am an ardent believer in what I call Spiritual Geography, on the importance of place in Scripture, and the overlap between what it spiritual and what is physical (hearkening back to the Sacred/Secular divide myth). Territory can be quite literal, cities and homes and nations, but it can also be less so. Every soul who repents and turns to Christ is territory re-taken for its rightful owner, Jesus Christ. Days are a kind of territory, too. In cases of difficult Holidays (Halloween certainly is one, though Christmas and Easter aren't, but we'll tackle those another day), when days are set aside by the Church of antiquity, such as All Hallow's Eve and All-Saints' Day, for righteous reflection, or by the Enemy, such as Halloween's more obvious pagan and demonic and macabre and frankly Satanic nature (though those are all synonymous), a question beckons on the pumpkin-patched horizon:
A day has been hallowed by different sides of a spiritual war. If you or I don't observe Halloween in its demonic form (which hopefully we don't), then what are you going to do with it?
To ignore a day made hallowed, for good or bad, is to surrender that territory to the enemy. It is to let the enemy have a day that rightly belongs to the Lord, as do all. The Gates of Death cannot prevail over the Church's onslaught, so what are we afraid of?
I know I have said this part many times, but I'm not about to stop: when we see the culture around us taking ground in worship of their own witless gods, is our response as believers to stand here and take it? I don't see that anywhere in Scripture. Is it to bemoan the fallen world around us and convince ourselves that it's growing, based on finite memory and television's false proclamation of the Enemy's imagined victories? Or is it to take sling in hand and declare that our God has been insulted, and that He isn't one to lie down about that sort of thing? And then run, spinning leather?
The End of the Matter...
None of this is a call to celebrate Halloween, in case you wondered, nor even to observe holidays of antiquity. It's a call to remember that every day, hour, and minute, every blade of grass and stone and stream and marriage and friendship and dollar and crop rightly belongs to Almighty God. When even a single enemy enters into the field of the fatherless to claim for Caesar what ought be rendered unto God, what is our response?
Here's what it comes down to: this, like many, is a case of not whether but which. If we do not live this day for Christ, hallowed and bold as lions and open and defiant of Caesar's will, the hallowed nature of it remains, kept for false gods by a crumbling culture. The day is hallowed by the Western public, like it or not. Any day is not a case of whether it should be hallowed, but for which purpose? Is the territory Christ's, or the Enemy's? More importantly, as it relates to the Church, for whom do we claim it?
Whether today, tomorrow, or some "random" day of the calendar year, how are you and I taking the territory for Jesus Christ as spiritual land inherited in His Kingdom? Today and tomorrow both belong to the Lord.
ON THE HORIZON AT LWF:
Rise Above: Annual Inheritors Teen & Young Adult Retreat
Click HERE to register for the annual teen retreat! This year the retreat is hosted at the Nicklesburgs from Friday night, November 10th - Sunday morning of the 12th, ending at LWF service. This year we dive into conduct, lost manners and masculinity and femininity, as well as respect for elders and honour and civility, all from a standpoint of biblical principles. See the link for more!
Until next time! God go with you, brothers and sisters in Christ.