A Prayer for Halloween
An old Scottish (some say Cornish) litany prays:
“From ghoulies and ghosties
and long-leggedy beasties
and things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord deliver us.”
Ghoulies and ghosties are not what keep me up awake, though a bump in the night will get my attention! I’m more concerned about the first question in our Baptismal liturgy:
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,
reject the evil powers of this world
and repent of your sin.
Really? Isn’t that a peculiar question to ask when we stand at the font with a beautiful, innocent, little baby in our arms?
But the Church dares to tell the truth about the world into which that innocent child has been born. It’s a world where every one of us faces spiritual forces of wickedness, the evil powers of a broken world, and the reality of our own sin.
But the liturgy doesn’t stop there. We also ask:
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you
to resist evil, injustice and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves?
A pastor in North Carolina posted this wonderful picture of a little girl clinging to the font. It was as if that little girl already knew that in a world like this, we need to hold onto the “freedom and power God gives us” in our baptism!
Martin Luther, the 16th Century leader of the Reformation who never shied away from the powers of evil, said, “The only way to drive away the Devil is through faith in Christ, by saying: ‘I have been baptized! I am a child of God!'”
That’s why the Baptism liturgy goes on to ask the congregation:
“Do you, as Christ’s Body, the church,
reaffirm both your rejection of sin
and your commitment to Christ?”
And we all respond (sometimes more lustily than others!), “We do!”
“Hail to the Victors!”
Whether they win or lose, nothing stirs the football souls of my Michigan relatives more than the UM band taking the field with “Hail to the Victor!”
Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conquering heroes
That might be a close as the football world can get to what the Church declares on All Saint’s Day when we sing “For All the Saints.” We celebrate those who accepted “the freedom and power God gives to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” We name those who, on the other side of the dark night of ghoulies and ghosties, have experienced the ultimate victory of the Risen Christ.
And it’s the day we are strengthened to stand for truth in a time of blatant lies, for compassion in a time of self-oriented meanness, to hold onto the hope of victory through every loss.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
May we, with no fear of ghoulies and ghosties, accept the power to resist evil in whatever form it presents itself with brave hearts and strong arms.