Halloween… All Saints’ Day… All Soul’s day… It’s the time of year when most people around the world most remember their dead, ‘celebrate’ and associate with death. Death is the theme of the season. What exactly are these ‘holidays’?
Halloween is derived from the root word ‘hallow’ which means holy. ‘Een’ is a suffix added to mean evening. So halloween is actually ‘eve of all hallows’ – the night before All Saints’ Day, the ‘holy’ day when people honours saintly people of the past. All Saints’ day is the day when many around the world remember the dead. All Souls’ day is the day to pray for all souls. Among Catholics, this is the day when prayers are offered for those in purgatory waiting to get to heaven.
Many views are offered whether these holidays came from Christian or Pagan origins; based on historical and cultural facts and practices. Death is often a taboo. Many do not like to think about death or talk about it. The fear of death is not uncommon. It seems ironical to me that even though death is such a morbid subject, people around the world are celebrating death during this season.
As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the Word of God. So what about the Bible? What does it say about death?
Death is the end of life. When God created all living things, it was good. He thought it good to create life. So why put an end to something good? Death is the consequence of man’s disobedience to God. God commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. ‘For when you eat from it, you will certainly die.’ (Gen. 2:17)
Throughout the Old Testament, death is often associated with punishment for evil.
In the book of Job, death is an end to suffering (Job 3:21, 7:15).
In the gospel, the death of Jesus is the significant event upon which the good news of God is built.
The Bible teaches that God is righteous, just and lovingly compassionate. His righteousness is opposed to sin. His justice demands that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23a). In His love and compassion, He gives eternal life through His Son Jesus (Rom. 6:23b). For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Jesus died on the cross for our sins. His death pays the penalty for our sins. That is good news. There is an even better news – His resurrection: Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is alive. Today, He is with God the Father. His resurrection gives us hope. What is resurrection about? Read about it in 1 Corinthians 15.
Death and life… life and death… These are realities of the present world. For the Christians, death in the physical body is the beginning of life in the resurrected body – forever in the presence of God – the Giver of life. We celebrate the lives of the saints: our dear departed loved ones in the Lord because precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalms 116:15)
For me, today is a day to remember our dead but also a day to celebrate… celebrate the life that God gives to me – the physical life of the now with an end called death… and more so with the spiritual life of the present and in the world to come…
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:51-56)
Today, I celebrate the defeat of death… and the victory of life in Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Lord.