Trick or treat? Within the life of the Church, the day after Halloween is called All Saints' Day. On that day the Church typically lifts up the memory of those who have died. It is a time of re-membering as we engage in the mystic communion acknowledging that the veil that separates the bodied and un-embodied can be bridged. Through memory, imagination, and ritual, we can make present those now gone.
The importance of such liturgical acts grow in a political culture that does all it can to remember the dead no more. We see this daily in our denial that real human bodies are being slaughtered in the Middle East because of the greed and madness of those who have seized political power. As rumors of an impending Iranian air attack increase, and the Boy Idiot pontificates about World War III, and so-called Christian churches gleefully embrace images of apocalyptic purging, it is increasingly important that each of us begins to reclaim the truth that our individual lives are connected to the lives of others.
The trick of this administration has been to poison us with fear. They have moved inside our heads and collapsed our imagination so that we can no longer see a future of health and vitality. They have moved inside our hearts and caused us to mistrust each other. We are like little children going door to door on a festive night of good will, but they have become dreaded predators who seize us, kidnap our joy, and torture us into apathy and despair. In their love of death, they have forgotten our love for life.
We are not the first to encounter such predators. There are those who have gone before us and given examples of how to oppose them. One of those, now on the other side of the veil, said:
"This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities."
"We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker."
"We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own."
In these words Oscar Romero lives on. The veil is removed. He is present, particularly in those who embody these words for life. This is the "treat" of All Saints Day.
Rev. Rich Lang is Pastor of TrinityUnited Methodist Church, where they make present the names of the dead. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.