A member has been added to your Body

On the Sunday of All Saints yesterday, a new saint was added to the number of saints who constitute Christ’s church.  My new grandson, Thomas Gene Edward Hensley, was baptized.

“When[the church]  baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member.”  John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII

My father’s name was read among the dead, and now his name-sake enters the church, so it was all very meaningful to me.  In honor of All Saints, now that I am thinking about John Donne, after the jump I’ll quote the context of the above passage from his Devotions, a series of meditations as he was undergoing a serious illness, which as far as he knew may well be fatal.  The “for whom the bell tolls” refers to the custom of ringing the church bells to call people to prayer for someone who was dying, and he was wondering if the bells were ringing for him. 

[Read more…]

Naming the blessed dead

All Saints’ Day is the Christian Memorial Day, a time to remember loved ones who have died and who now are with all of the other saints, enjoying everlasting life with Christ.  The custom on All Saints’ Day in church is simply to list those who died in the previous year, reading each name as a bell tolls.  I invite you to use this space to honor any of those you love who have joined the saints.

I’ll go first:  GENE EDWARD VEITH, my father, who died in May.

Co-opting Halloween for Reformation Day

Today is Reformation Day.  Children will wear masks, symbolizing vocation (as in the princesses, ballerinas, and cowboys) or our sinful nature (as in the witches, zombies, and monsters).  We will give them the free gift of candy, symbolizing the Gospel in all of its sweetness.

The pumpkins. . . ummm. . . .When we are connected to the vine of Christ, our faith brings forth fruit.  Big fruit.  The size of pumpkins.  They have faces carved into them to remind us that our good works need to benefit an actual person; that is, be in love and service to our neighbors, whether they are smiling or looking mean.

Help me out here.  What other Halloween customs could we co-opt for Reformation Day?  Bobbing for apples?  Ghosts?  Getting scared?  What else?

 

The origins & history of Halloween

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson has a running project of refuting the notion that Christian holidays derived from pagan festivals.  You have got to read what he says about the history of Halloween. [Read more…]

A defense of Halloween

Thanks to Colin Cutler for alerting me to this Christian defense of Halloween, including its scary parts.  The author is Roman Catholic, so I’m not sure I can untangle what she’s doing with the Reformation Day reference!  But still, does she make a good point?  Or not? [Read more…]

“We are beggars; this is true”

The Reformation can be summed up in six words, according to our pastor in his Reformation Day sermon last Sunday.  Not the solas, not some version of “Here I stand,” but the words written down on a scrap of paper that Luther had in his pocket on his deathbed:  “We are beggars; this is true.”  After the jump, read what Pastor Douthwaite says about these words. [Read more…]


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