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All Saints Day

Texts & Discussion:
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 or
Isaiah 25:6-9 and
Psalm 24
Revelation 21:1-6a
John 11:32-44


"Hallow", in Old English, means "holy" or "sacred." Therefore, "Hallows' Eve," or "Halloween" simply means "the evening of holy persons" and refers to the evening before All Saints Day, which is this day, November 1 on both Anglican and Catholic calendars. In the early years when Rome persecuted Christians, so many martyrs died for their faith, that the Church set aside special days to honor them. For example, in 607 Emperor Phocas presented to the Pope the beautiful Roman Pantheon temple (see picture at top of page). The Pope quickly removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to "all saints" who had died from Roman persecution in the first three hundred years after Christ. Their bones were brought from other graves and placed in the rededicated Pantheon church.

In the next century, All Saints Day was changed by Pope Gregory III to today's date-- November l. In the 10th century, Abbot Odela of the Cluny monastery added the next day--November 2nd--as "All Souls" Day" to honor not just the martyrs, but all Christians who had died. People prayed for the dead, but many unchristian superstitions also were continued. Food was often offered to the dead--as it had been in pagan times. It was also believed that on these two days, souls in purgatory would take the form of witches, toads, or demons and haunt persons who had wronged them during their lifetime.

As happens so often in Church history, sacred Christian festivals can absorb so many pagan customs that they lose their significance as Christian holidays. But think of it positively. Who are your favorite heroes in Christian History? Can you think of any whose example has inspired you? Why not use this All Saint's Day to think of and give thanks for as many Christians from the past that you know about, whether they are famous or not, whose lives have contributed something to yours.

More on the history of All Saints Day: Catholic Encyclopedia


A Responsive Call to Worship for All Saints Day
Pastor: We remember, O Godů
People: The countless saints of history who have blazed a trail of courage through time,
Pastor: We remember, O Godů
People: The tender touch of loved ones, the example of heroes, the healing words of comforters, the remarkable acts of fearless ones.
Pastor: We remember, O Godů
People: The gentle strength of grandmothers, the loyalty of friends, the kindness of strangers, the joy of children, the sacrifice of parents.
Pastor: We remember, O Godů
People: The supreme love of Jesus, the blessing of his Spirit, the reminder of his words, the sharing of his suffering, the glory of his resurrection: shown forth in the lives of his disciples, young and old, dead and living, articulate and silent, strange and familiar, brilliant and ordinary.
Pastor: We remember in every time and place the saints of God who have shown us the Lord.

Hymn Suggestions:
For All the Saints
For All Your Saints, O Lord
Rejoice, the Lord is King
Forward Through the Ages
Rise, O Children of Salvation
Faith of our Fathers
The Church's One Foundation
Rejoice in God's Saints
By All Your Saints in Warfare
As Saints of Old Their Firstfruits Brought
Come, Let Us Join Our Friends Above
I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
Baptized Into Your Name Most Holy
Shall We Gather At the River
Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters
You Have Put on Christ
Child of Blessing, Child of Promise

More All Saints Day Resources:

God Bless You!
a children's sermon based on Matthew 5:1-12

by Rev. F. Schaefer
Props: a handkerchief
Show your handkerchief and ask if anybody knows what this is for.  Take a few suggestions, then demonstrate the use by pretending to sneeze into the handkerchief.
Ask the children what people say when someone sneezes.   The most common response is "bless you".... (click here for full version)

A "Pumpkin Sermon"
a sermon seed based on Psalm 34:5
Prepare a large jack o'lantern ahead of time by cutting out eyes, ears, nose and mouth, slicing off the stem end and hollowing out the rest. . . (click here for full version)

(click here for full All Saints Day resources )