A Blessing for Holy Souls

by Pastor Heath Howe

 

A Celebration to be held around Halloween:

The following celebration is adapted from the book For Everything a Season, 75 Blessings for Daily Life.  This celebration may be done with small children, teens, and/or adults.  It may be done with a large group or on your own.  Ideally, this celebration is done at a meal on Halloween; however, it may be adapted to be celebrated at another time around the holiday.  If celebrated in a group, please share the opening welcome, prayer, bible text, and blessing with any readers present.  Enjoy!  Blessings, Pastor Heath

Preparation:  To make the most of your celebration remind those gathered of the meaning of this day.

(For an interesting history on Halloween please consider www.halloween-history.org  An older child could be assigned to read the information ahead of time and be ready to share what he or she remembers during the meal.)  There are many traditions connected to Halloween, i.e. wearing costumes, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating to name a few.  For Christians this night can hold a different sort of tradition.  Simply put, we gather this night to remember and honor those people in our lives, who while living, taught us about God and God's love. 

Set the table for a special feast (if celebrating as a family, assign the preparation of the table to specific family members).  Consider using special plates, decorations, glassware.  Place photos of loved ones who have died in the center of the table with votive or other candles next to each (if inviting friends to the celebration make sure they bring photos as well).  

Materials Needed:  Pumpkin, knife, votive or other candle(s), matches, pictures of loved ones who have died.

Opening Welcome: For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.  Welcome to this time of remembering those who have died who have guided us on our spiritual journeys.

Prayer: Dear God, on the eve of the festival of All Saints' Day, may we be reminded of those who have touched our lives with your grace and truth, bringing light and hope into our darkened places.  May this Halloween be for us a hallowed experience.  Amen.

Bible Passage: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith  (Hebrews 12"1-2a).

During the Meal: During your feast share with one another any knowledge you have around the history of Halloween and All Saints' Day.  Share your favorite parts of the holiday.  Before the end of the meal begin sharing stories about the people in your life who have died who you would like to remember this night.

After Meal Reflection: Option 1-Ask each person to hold the photo of the family member they have chosen to remember tonight.  Have them share one story or example of how that person taught them about love.  For example, "Tonight I remember my dad, John.  He taught me about God's love through all the ways he loved me.  He told me stories.  He spent time with me.  He loved to watch cartoons with me." Have the person end by saying, "Thank you, Saint (name), for teaching me about Christ."

Option 2-(ideal for older children and adult gatherings) Share or write in a journal about the people who have died who, while living, loved you and taught you the most about God's love.  Who is in the ‘cloud of witnesses' that surround your life right now?  How does remembering them and their lives help you ‘run with perseverance'?

Ritual Action: Light a candle next to the photo of each person remembered.  This light is a symbol of the light of Christ seen in them and honors them.  Name them as their flame light glows. After the meal choose a Christian symbol (cross, fish, star, candle, angel, lamb, etc.) Clean out the pumpkin and carve that symbol into the shell.  Put the candle into the pumpkin and light it.  May this Halloween pumpkin remind you and your family of the light of Christ passed down from those who have gone before us.  May we share that light with others we meet.

Blessing:  May the holiness of this night enter into us, the vision of the saints guide us, and the light of God forever shine through us.  Amen

 

A Table Blessing for October

Sharing a meal is a perfect way to experience the love of God through good food, caring conversations, and really being present with those we love. As we move deeper into the fall season, decide as a family which meal you will pause from the business of the calendar and really connect with one another. For some families dinner is the best time. For others it is breakfast when the day is about to begin anew. For some of us Sunday dinner once a week is a time to leisurely sit at table and share stories, laugh, and relax.  There are many times.  You choose, and as you gather, consider praying the following together:

Dear God, it is Fall.

A time of change when the leaves turn red and gold and when the air chills. A time for warm soup, baked bread, and homemade pie. A time for seeing, tasting, and knowing your love in one another and the world you gave us.

Dear God, it is Fall. We are grateful. Amen.

Taste and see. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Blessings, Heath