Fall Festivals: Michaelmas, Martinmas, All Saints Sunday

Michaelmas

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…is celebrated in worship and following worship with the traditional slaying of the “dragon” by children and youth. It is a minor Christian festival observed on September 29. The Archangel Michael mentioned in both the Old Testament book of Daniel and in the New Testament book of Revelation.  Michael is honored for defeating Satan in the great war in heaven. He is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence.

Michaelmas the “festival of courage” celebrated as the earth traverses the tail end of the late summer meteor showers and the northern hemisphere begins to tilt away from the sun and the days grow darker reminding us of the darkness of the world in which we live.  Michael, the archangel inspires courage to face the darkness and rely God.  Through the inspiration of this angelic being, the lowly peasant, George, was inspired to persevere in the name of Christ, though the odds were stacked against him, to complete a daunting task, slaying the “dragon”.

Do any of us face a daunting task? Does the earth itself face a daunting future? Even in the traditional stories of St. George, an important aspect is always that, although many have come before him in trying to defeat the dragon, it is only he holding the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:10-18), who comes during the autumn harvest time who is able to complete the task. The spiritual task of this time of year is to go deep within one’s own depths and face the dragon within and without. This requires the greatest courage of all.

Martinmas

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….at the worship service closest to November 11 we remember and learn from the life of St Martin of Tours (316-397 AD).    Martin is known for his compassionate gesture of sharing his cloak with a beggar.  Following this act he had a dream where the beggar appeared to him and then became Jesus Christ saying”Martin, you have shown my Light within you for when you do for the least of these you do for me”.  This charitable gesture of shining Christ’s Light in the darkness by helping those in need is at the heart of this festival and kicks off a season of giving in the church often times beginning with a coat drive or other charitable drives around this festival.

This festival is the middle point between Michaelmas and Christmas; the light of Christ which is kindled during Martinmas fortifies our souls for the dark winter and prepares us for the birth of Christ.  One symbol of this is working with light from lanterns in the traditional Lantern Walk Service of Worship.

The traditional Lantern Walk, is a procession at night, accompanied by singing and at times the neighborhood collection of warm clothing, mittens and hats or canned goods.  Prior to the service we make lanterns and carry our own little “flame” that was beginning to shine at Michaelmas, so that we may carry it safely through the dark world.  It may only be a small and fragile light- but every light brings relief to the darkness and as the song goes ”Each us us shines with Christ’s Light and together we shine bright”

All Saints Sunday

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….All Saints’ Day (November 1) and our observation the day on All Saints Sunday is the day when we remember and give thanks for the lives of those who have gone before us.  In  some cases these are particular luminaries of ages past as well as those who have guided us in the faith.  Emphasis is on the  the whole people of God.  Rather than putting saints on pedestals as holy people set apart in glory, we give glory to God for the ordinary, holy lives of the believers in this and every age. As part of our worship service we pause and remember members of the community of faith who have died in the past year. We also pray that we may be counted among the company of the faithful in God’s eternal realm.

 

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