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Halloween has been harrowed.
Ian Olson on how the morbid instrument of the cross has been transfigured into the emblem of our faith.
I’m really appreciative of this essay from fellow Mockingbird writer Ian Olson, entitled, “The Harrowing of Halloween,” in which he shares some of the most invigorating lines that articulate how the morbid instrument of the cross has been transfigured into the emblem of the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). These are great words:
Empty tombs aren’t always good news, but on at least one occasion an empty tomb was. And make no bones about it, Christians are fascinated by a particularly morbid decoration themselves: the cross. For whatever value we ascribe to it now depends upon the unforeseeable event of resurrection to render it anything more than a grisly instrument of torture. Short of that, it is the symbol of Roman might to erase human particularity from history. But the fact that Jesus is remembered at all is a testament to its negation. That by which imperial supremacy was meant to be enforced and assured was converted to the instrument of its own irrelevance and passing away. The Romans never intended to save the world — at least not like that.
The way to life is only ever through death; our adoption into Jesus’s beloved community is only in sharing his grave with him. We fear the darkness and what it can do to us, but Jesus assures us he has subverted it from within to sever Death’s hold upon us.
Salvation has come by way of an unmarked tombstone. Halloween may be harrowing, but it has been harrowed by the Living Lord.
Halloween has been harrowed, the grave overcome, and sin canceled (Col. 2:13–15). The cross is our blazon banner of triumph because the tomb was left empty. Darkness has been defeated once for all by the Light of the world. And now we, too, revel in the infinite frustration Christ has enacted on all of Satan’s plans. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace,” the Lord says to his impressionable apostles. “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Grace and peace, friends.