And Soon the Light Shall Come
Yesterday was All Hallow’s Eve; today is All Saints Day. And soon, comes Advent.
Some in the Western church have foresworn All Saints Day (along with All Souls Day) as Catholic chicanery – a wrongful deification that borders on (or jumps headlong into) idolatry. That may be true, but I am partial to the Methodist tradition: reflection and thanks to our dearly departed.
In fact, I’m partial to it all, including the Irish folklore. I enjoy it, and I enjoy commemorating it, because it acknowledges the existence of darkness, those that fought against it, and reminds us of what’s already happened and what's coming: a reminder of a man who hung on a cross and beat back the darkness and the advent of a hope that the Light of God will one day consume the darkness altogether.
It’s on All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints Day that I’m reminded of what my grandmother, muddled by painkillers following a medical downturn mixed with exhaustion, once prayed: “Like it says in your word, Lord, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Assuming that the canon is in fact closed and President Roosevelt was not uttering inspired speech, she was wrong.
So was FDR, of course. There is more to fear than fear itself. It is often said that courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to persevere through it. The key, of course, is to remember why we are able to look our fear in the eyes and recall what the fairy tales taught us: that though spirits and ghouls and dragons do indeed exist, they can also be killed.
Spirits and ghouls and dragons fear something too, or rather Someone. They fear the Rider on the White Horse, the one called Faithful and True. They know that He brings with him the fury and wrath of God Almighty, more than enough to consume them all. And so we acknowledge the darkness of All Hallows’ Eve and, here on All Saints Day, we thank God for our dearly departed, like my Nanny, who fought against it, because doing so is a stark reminder to look forward to the light that will soon and forever pierce the darkness, and all the ghouls and spirits and dragons therein.
Advent is coming. Maranatha.
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