Happy holidays: Take off masks after Halloween | Weekly Worship

By Pastor Paul Sundberg, Pointe of Grace | Nov 13, 2013

I find it strangely appropriate that the so-called “holiday season” begins with Halloween.

For that day, or at least evening, a great many people put on masks. The celebration and the masking were intended both to make fun of the scary things in life (and even of fear itself) and to deceive the evil underworld powers.

The idea was to end up with a freer, fuller life. But now it seems as though we’re mostly just trying to hide from the challenges of life and put on happy masks to deceive our neighbors and ourselves.

And so it goes, through the whole “holiday season.”

Most of us will eat too much on Thanksgiving Day and let the combination of food, football and family dull our senses and our pain.

The day masks our hunger for compassion and healing from the hurts of the past.

Christmas comes and we sing songs of peace, exchange gifts (mostly unneeded), and get all nostalgic.

Too often we use the day to mask our fears, buy acceptance and affirmation, and lay aside the frustrating work of making our way to a better world.

We even put a mask on God because a sleeping, silent infant is just so much easier to deal with.

I suppose you could write this off as the musings of yet another grumpy pastor. It is a very busy time of year for us.

But the truth is I love the “holiday season” and all of its various trappings, from the “fun size” candy bars (honestly, they’re so small they’re only “amusing size” at best) all the way to stuffing the grandchild-shredded wrapping paper into the recycle bin.

More importantly, though, I love life even more.

The point of faith, the heart of the Christian Gospel is precisely that – to love life.

Loving life doesn’t include masking the difficult truths and times of life. It means embracing them, all of them: death, hunger, fear, longing, risk, challenge, honesty, frustration – you name it.

Faith, the Gospel, God – they don’t make the tough stuff go away, they don’t necessarily make it tolerable, but they do make it a pathway to deeper love and a still unfolding future.

Those are pretty good alternatives to a false front and the longing for the old days that weren’t as good as your memory paints them to be.

The day after Halloween is called “All Saints Day” in the church.

(“Halloween” is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve,” hallows being another word for saints.)

Perhaps that’s the real start of the “holiday season,” after all, they are the ones who took off the masks and really loved life.

That sort of love makes Thanksgiving a day of joy and humility. That sort of love makes Christmas the day that all the masks we placed on God were removed and we discovered that God is with us – always.

So, enjoy the holidays, every one of them. Just take the masks off first, and really live.

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