Harvest Halloween

Mark, a friend of mine, is a farmer and he and I were chatting yesterday about his harvest. Seems God has blessed his fields abundantly this year. He has no explanation, only praise…

Our conversation got me thinking about harvest and how it seems to coincide (at least in Minnesota) with Halloween, so I did a bit of Wikipedia research. Here is what I found: Halloween (October 31st) originated as an ancient Celtic harvest celebration named Samhain (I\’ve got Irish blood, so always love peeking in on the Celts). Along with the harvest came the advent of winter and Halloween was the day between summer and winter (no autumn season established back then). Along with this day that stood between a time of abundant life (summer) and death (winter) came a dropping of the boundaries between the dead and the living, between the spirit realm and the physical realm. The dead and the evil spirits were seen as comingling with the living and not in the happy, joyful trick or treat kind of way that we celebrate today. The spirits were considered dangerous and harbingers of illness/death (grim reapers of souls) and damaged crops, damaged harvests. So the Celts would don costumes and masks to placate the spirits and put out dummy plates of food for the dead in hopes all would either pass by or be satisfied and let them live.

In the Gospels, Jesus talked quite a bit about spiritual harvest…that the time of God\’s harvest is now, a time when the fields are ripe for picking and all that is needed are harvesters. In Luke 10:2 He told His disciples, \”The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.\” He saw that the timing for the Gospel was just right, that peoples\’ hearts were ripe and ready for picking, for harvesting. He also mentioned, in parables mostly, that there are those who seek to thwart the harvest, seek to keep it for themselves, who seek to keep it from its rightful Owner, God. The Book of Revelation (book of the end of time) is largely dedicated to the fierce battle between Satan and God over the souls of the people on earth, a battle for the final harvest. In both Jesus\’ stories and Revelation we see Satan desperately seeking to keep from God the harvest, seeking to keep it for himself or at least destroy it so God cannot have it. Kinda sounds like the pre-Christian ancient Celtic Samhain harvest festival (today known as Halloween) was a foreshadow of the truth Jesus brought…

The Druids (a priestly pre-Christian Celtic people) foreshadowed lot of things as far as Christ was concerned, well before Christ came…dare I posit that that is why St Patrick had such an easy time of converting them? Why little or no blood was shed as the Celts converted? Hmmm…just a diversion here…

So, back to topic (are you bored yet? Extra star for you if you are still reading!!). As we enter the weekend of Halloween, can it be that the door between the dead and the living is opened during these days? Are there more evil spirits in the air? You know what I think of? I think of Jesus\’ death, Good Friday. At the moment of his death, graves were opened and the holy dead were raised (whoa!). At the point of His death (the Firstfruit, Jesus, was harvested) dead dudes arose and the curtain in the temple ripped in two, symbolizing that the barrier between God and man was removed (maybe even between man and the spirit realm?). It does seem that at the time of death (harvest time) there is a dropping of boundaries…that it is a vulnerable time spiritually. It is also important to see, I think, that this time in history is a large scale Halloween. Yes, Jesus was resurrected and defeated death and we, as Christians, are part of that legacy, but we must also recognize Jesus��� words that this is the time of the harvest and nod to the possibility that we���re in the midst of Revelation���s saga���that we\’re in the midst of a battle for souls and that entities, living and dead, seen and unseen are engaged. Even within each of our hearts there is a battle, a vulnerability to the dark side.

What do we do? Do we don costumes or facades and try to placate the demons that swirl about and seek landing strips into our territory, our soul? Do we join the ranks of those who stay in their head (intellectualize Halloween) and call many of those who do dark things and play with spiritual power simply unenlightened? Do we look the other way, smile and call it all nonsense?

The ancient Celts had another ritual they enacted every Samhain. All their home fires were put out except for one large local bonfire. Each family went to the bonfire to take from it to light their own hearths. Fireplaces back then weren\’t just for enjoyment, they were the very heart of the home: where meals were cooked, heat was sustained, light emanated. Like our hearts, they were the place where nourishment, life and light resided. So, maybe like the ancient Celts we can draw from the fire. During these dark days and on the darkest day of the year (Friday) we Christians can draw from the true Fire, draw from the One who is our Sustainer, our Lifegiver, our Provider, our Protector, our Deliverer and our Purifier. We need not fear or try to divine our own way, for we stand Hand in hand with Christ, the Ruler of the spiritual realm and the One who conquered death. All that lies on the other side (or that comingles with us on this side) is at His command, we need only light our fires…

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