All Saints Day is fixed on November 1 for commemoration of all who have fallen asleep in Christ and is celebrated on the first Sunday in November. From the early days of the church we have remembered those whose faith sustained them through the trials and tribulations of persecution.
Eventually the commemoration included the remembrance of all who have passed away in faith of God’s promise of salvation through Christ. We who are baptized and trust Christ’s promise look forward to our bodily resurrection. On this day we join with all the voices in heaven to sing praise to God and remember the faith of our friends and family who wait now with Him for the Day of Christ’s return and the resurrection of the dead.
The day is significant to us as it is linked to the posting of Luther’s 95 theses. It was on All Hallows Eve, October 31, that Luther posted his list of issues with Rome on the church door for all to read the next morning when they arrived at Church on All Saints Day.
Of course another dimension is added as All Hallows Eve is what we now enjoy as Halloween. “Hallows” is an old English word for hallowed (holy) or saint. The origins of dressing in costume and “trick or treating” may come from the practice of ridiculing Satan and trying to trick him by mocking his pride. As Luther would say, “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn.”
James Jordan writes, “Thus, the defeat of evil and of demonic powers is associated with Halloween. For this reason, Martin Luther posted his 95 challenges to the wicked practices of the Church to the bulletin board on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on Halloween. He picked his day with care, and ever since Halloween has also been Reformation Day.”
For us today our celebration is really summarized in the first of Luther’s theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”
On this day we celebrate the work of Christ on a bloody cross to defeat Satan and call us into repentance for the salvation of our souls. It is our life now to laugh at the usurper and mock him from our new home clinging to the foot of the cross with all the Saints.