The month of October is usually known for celebrating Halloween. It’s become tradition to decorate homes with ghosts and goblins, to dress up in costumes, and to knock on doors for candy. Most of the time this is done in good fun, but as in all things it can be taken too far.
But, do you know the origin of the term “Halloween?” In the 16th Century it became a shortened version of the fuller “All Hallows Eve.” Historically, October 31st was designated as “All Hallows Eve” because November 1st is designated as “All Saints’ Day.” “Hallow” means “to make holy,” or “to revere as holy.” In reference to a person it means “saint.” Therefore, “All Hallows Eve”—or All Saints’ Day—was shortened to “Hallow e’en” or “holy evening.” From that we now have the term we know as “Halloween.”
While the world has set aside October 31st to celebrate this secular festival, the Church has set aside October 31st to remember our reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg, Germany in protest to the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were pieces of paper through which you could buy forgiveness for your sins or the sins of your dead relatives. Those 95 Theses were the spark that lit the fire of the reformation of the Church. It was led by Martin Luther, who stood firm on the truth of the Bible that we are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, and by scripture alone.
This is what we will celebrate this October 31st. It’s a day in which we remember the faithfulness of Martin Luther to the Bible. But more so, we are reminded of the Biblical fact that we are saved not by anything we do. We are saved by the grace of God through the faith in God that we possess. We don’t have to do anything to save ourselves. God eternally saved us through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.
Martin Luther was always searching for true peace in his life. He was deathly afraid of God and he always thought that he had to make up for his sins and appease God’s wrath on his own. But as he dug deeper into the Bible he realized that he had true peace, true forgiveness because of Jesus and his shed blood. Jesus appeased God’s wrath over sin, including his. Upon knowing this Biblical truth, Martin Luther couldn’t help but make sure that this chief teaching of the Bible was clearly proclaimed in the Church into the future.
That chief teaching of the Bible continues to be proclaimed in our church today. We are so blessed to hear about Jesus’ complete sacrifice for our sins every Sunday. This is the message that saves. This is the message that brings true and lasting peace of forgiveness to our hearts. This is the message that removes our guilt over past sins. This is the message we now cherish and hold dear to the grave.
In the next month the world will be saying “Happy Halloween.” As those who are in the world but not of the world, let us all say “Happy Reformation!” For through it we are blessed with the main teaching of the Bible: that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ alone. This message brings comfort to our hearts now, and it will bring us eternal comfort and peace to us all when Jesus calls us to our heavenly home! Happy Reformation to you all!
Your Servant In Christ,
Pastor Christopher Koschnitzke
"...and you will be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth." ~ Acts 1:8b