Special Days in October
18th October: Saint Luke's Day
By Lester Amann
On the Feast Day of St Luke we remember that he wrote one of the four Gospels. What else do we know? He was probably a Gentile; certainly an educated Greek and was trained as a doctor. Interestingly, he began his Gospel with two detailed descriptions of the births of two important babies!
Luke’s Gospel has a
very human touch to it as he often writes about our Lord’s encounters with individuals; men,
women, children, the poor and the rich, the sick and the strong. He showed
Christ’s sympathy for people who were underprivileged, hurting and weak. Luke
was a keen observer and wrote with the heart of a loving physician.
If we didn’t have
Luke’s Gospel we would lack so much. For example we wouldn’t know about: the
angels’ and shepherds’ visit at the birth of Jesus; the visit by the boy Jesus
to the temple; the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son; the
encounters of Jesus with Zacchaeus, and the two men on their walk to Emmaus.
Luke’s tenderness is
revealed with his emphasis on prayer, the Holy Spirit, the role of women in the
ministry of Jesus and God’s forgiveness of sins. He describes Jesus’ compassion
for the widow of Nain and our Lord’s mercy to the dying thief on the cross.
Did you know that Luke is also the author of Acts? It’s a continuation of his Gospel. This describes the beginnings of the early church and is full of drama including the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the martyrdom of Stephen and the conversion of Saul (Paul).
Luke was a companion of
Paul and went on many journeys together. They even survived a shipwreck before
arriving in Rome! Here was a man not writing about distant historical figures
or dramas but knew people first-hand and experienced the hazards and hardships
of the 1st Century A.D.
Today, we should give thanks that Luke is the author of two important books of the Bible. Through his texts we can know that eternal life and salvation can only be found through faith in Christ Jesus. If you haven’t looked at Luke’s Gospel for a while, why not start reading it today?
25th October: Bible Sunday
As we acknowledge Bible Sunday this month, it’s a good opportunity to ask the question: why should I read the Bible?
The Bible is the world’s best-selling book of all time. However, it isn’t one book, but a library of 66 books, composed by some 44 writers over a period of 1500 years in a range of literature including history, poetry, prophecy, letters and apocalyptic (end times). Despite having a number of different writers, the Bible claims one author: God himself!
This is the basis of the unity of its message and authoritative claim to be the primary way by which God speaks to us: ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible is inspired (‘the word of God in the words of men’) and presents itself as a manual for life, equipping us to live for God in every aspect of our lives. We also have the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide us in applying the words to our lives: ‘the Spirit will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:13).
However, the Bible could also be described as a love letter from God, as He uses it to deepen our relationship with him. As Jesus said: ‘You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me’ (John 5:39,40). Christians follow a person not a book, and the Scriptures are intended to help us to know Jesus better.
At her coronation the Queen was given a Bible with the words ‘the most precious thing this world affords’. Does this reflect our own attitude to the Bible?
31st October: All Hallows Eve – or Holy Evening
Modern Halloween celebrations have their roots with the Celtic peoples of pre-Christian times.
In those long-ago days, on the last night of October, the Celts celebrated the Festival of Samhain, or ‘Summer’s End’. The priests, or Druids, performed ceremonies to thank and honour the sun. For there was a very dark side to all this: Samhain also signalled the onset of winter, a time when it was feared that unfriendly ghosts, nature-spirits, and witches roamed the earth, creating mischief. So the Druid priests lit great bonfires and performed magic rites to ward off or appease these dark supernatural powers.
Then the Romans arrived, and brought their Harvest Festival which honoured the Goddess Pomona with gifts of apples and nuts. The two festivals slowly merged.
Christianity arrived still later, it began to replace the Roman and Druid
1st November - All Saints’ Day - was dedicated to all Christian Martyrs and Saints who had died. It was called ‘All Hallows’ Day’. The evening before became an evening of prayer and preparation and was called ‘All Hallows’ Eve’, The Holy Evening, later shortened to ‘Halloween’.
For many centuries, however, fear of the supernatural remained strong. During the Middle Ages, animal costumes and frightening masks were worn to ward off the evil spirits of darkness on Halloween. Magic words and charms were used to keep away bad luck, and everybody believed that witches ride about on broomsticks. Fortune telling was popular, and predicting the future by the use of nuts and apples was so popular that Halloween is still sometimes known as Nutcrack Night or Snap-Apple Night.
Today, Christians have learned to turn to prayer instead of charms to overcome the powers of darkness. And the deeper, true meaning of All Hallows’ Eve, should not be forgotten. As Christians, we all draw closer to Christ when we remember and give thanks for our loved ones and for others who have gone before us through the gates of death.