Rest in Peace

Someone asked me today about the use of the phrase, “Rest in Peace” when we bury a loved one.  It is the reason why Halloween became such a popular holiday in the world. It started out as “Hallows Eve”.
Just like on Christmas Eve, we honor that night before the birth of Jesus. So, on Hallows Eve, we remember the “saints” who have gone on from this world into God’s eternity.  We don’t forget the loved ones who have gone on before us, rather we remember them, visit their graves and leave flowers.
Rest in Peace is taken from the Latin (Requiescat in pace; hence the term “Requiem”.) It is a phrase that was used in Christian funerals.  It is way of wishing that the deceased’s soul may find eternal peace and rest in Jesus Christ. Such inscriptions were found in the catacombs of the early church and continued to be used on gravestones to this day.  Over time it was abbreviated as “RIP”, merely signifying that someone (regardless of faith) has died.  Oddly enough these words have been found inscribed into Hebrew gravestones dating from the 1st Century BC (Before Christ). “Come and rest in peace” has been transferred to the ancient Talmudic prayers in the 3rd   century AD & is used today in traditional Jewish ceremonies.
Later in history, when the phrase became ubiquitous, it was often used to refer to the body itself, not the soul.  The soul would sleep in the body, and it was wished that the body would find a peaceful rest.  This is commonly known as “soul sleep” and is not a Biblical concept.  For the Christian, to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”, 2 Corinthians 5:8.
After the reformation (1517, 500 years ago this year) things began to change in the minds of the Christian world. The church season known as “Hallow Tide” (when the saints were honored), became less and less enchanted.  By that I mean that the belief in ghosts & spirits went on the decline because of the Biblical teachings on the matter that became open for the public to view and read for itself.  Then you add to that the “age of enlightenment” (17th & 18th  centuries) where the educated elite ruled out any thought of an afterlife or spirits or ghosts or any other such thing. Slowly that line of thought trickled down through our education system and it became common knowledge in the west that the time of enchantment was over, and all there was in life was what you could feel, see, taste touch etc. 
But outside the culture of the wests modernization, in South America, where Catholicism still reigned supreme, the world was still enchanted with spirts, good and evil.  The faith merged with some of the cultic beliefs in Mexico and South America.  So that throughout the Caribbean island’s & Mexico “All Hallows Eve” became the “Day of the Dead”, when spirits supposedly came back to life and people began to wear dreadful looking costumes to frighten the evil spirits back into their graves (or wherever they came from).   It became a holiday that people looked forward to because of the revelry of the event, (much like “Ash Wednesday” became a Carnival in South America.  It is also widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, from cults prior to Christianity.  
All Hallows Eve became colloquialized as “Halloween” and that is how it came to America.  Children would dress up in costumes and go door to door asks for “treats” & if they didn’t get them, then certain “tricks” would be played on that household.  From that we get the phrase “trick or treat?”
Today it has become one of the most celebrated “holidays” in America.
Sadly, it has lost its innocence.  With the rise of the occult beginning in the 1960’s Satan worship, witches, spiritism, talking with the dead, have all become a big part of our culture.  More adults participate in “Halloween” than do children.  The onslaught of horror movies has taken over, and the pornography industry is cashing in big time.  Today in America, the age of disenchantment is over.  And despite the efforts of so many atheists, the spirit world is very real to the clear majority of American’s.   It is not unusual to find Christians who today, believe in ghosts, that is departed spirits, come back from the dead to haunt.  I’ve done enough funerals to know that most of America’s beliefs about the dead are sadly mistaken.  Let me be very clear, “it is appointed for each man once to die, and then comes the judgment”, Hebrews 9:27.  Your deceased relatives are not here for you to talk to.  They are not up in the sky watching you make that touchdown, so you can look up point up and say, “this one’s for you”. No one comes back from the dead, or sits in heaven watching you.  But there are evil spirits out there, fallen angels (known as demons) who followed Lucifer, as he became “Satan” and the “Devil” to be thrown out of heaven. They would like you to believe that they are your dead relatives or someone from the past ages, but they are not.  One thing for sure, their powers are real.  They can lead you into temptation.  They can possess people and lead them to many destructive things (even like mass shootings or suicide bombings).  The occult is nothing to be trifled with.  
All Hallows Eve is a time to remember the beloved Christians who have gone on before us and now reside with Christ.  They are a great host in heaven, and that remind us that our greatest Hope is in Jesus Christ & His salvation.  

In eius dilectione
Pastor Mike


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