Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My…
Of course, the title of tonight’s post has to do with the famous line from Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz – a classic film still enjoyed by children of all ages. Lions and tigers and bears, along with every other imaginable animal and creature will be out this evening, Halloween 2012, collecting treats from all the neighbors reminding us of this pagan holiday.
Last year, I spoke about how Halloween is the eve of All Saint’s Day, which is held on November 1st of each year and remembers those people and family members who have passed away during the last year. Churches hold special worship services, services of remembrance, and many families visit cemeteries for the purpose of delivering flowers to the graves of loved ones.
Another little known fact about the day is that Harry Houdini, who considered himself an escapologist and was one of the most famous illusionists of all time, died on Halloween Day, 1926. Several days earlier he had been preparing for a show when a student asked him about Houdini’s ability to take a punch to the mid-section. Houdini, pre-occupied and only half listening, stood up and turned into three punches from the student before he had a chance to brace for the impact.
Continuing his shows for two days and then traveling 1000 miles by train for a show in Detroit, Houdini arrived in Detroit and was diagnosed with a ruptured appendix. Surgery failed and he died of a massive infection at 1:26 pm Halloween Day in a hospital in Detroit. He was 52. Ironically, he was buried in a coffin that he had designed and had built only 4 weeks earlier; it was to be a prop for part of his stage show.
Houdini had instructed his wife that if it was possible, he would communicate with her from beyond the grave. Seances and other forms of trying to contact the dead were held one year after his death, 50 years after his death, and many times in between. No success was ever realized through these efforts. In 1975, vandals destroyed the bust on his grave and it remained in disrepair until a fan, the famous David Copperfield, donated $10,000 to have the statue replaced.
The Bible is full of stories about mediums and people who try to contact the dead. One of the most famous stories has to do with Saul’s attempt to contact Samuel after Samuel’s death. Saul was the king and had made it quite clear that it was a crime to enlist the aid of mediums and spiritualists to contact those who had died. Yet, when he was paralyzed by fear and did not know what to do as a leader, he enlisted the aid of his attendants and had them make arrangements for him to see a medium in Endor, a nearby town.
Saul, not wanting to be recognized, put on a disguise, visited the spiritualist and demanded that she “bring up” Samuel. Of course, the medium knew this was against the law, but upon recognizing Saul, obeyed his command and “contacted” Samuel. Samuel was distressed at being contacted, but entered into a brief conversation with Saul, who was in great distress at being at odds with God. After the conversation, Saul and his men ate a meal and departed before the night was out.
Throughout the years, many others have tried methods of communicating with those who had departed this earth. Saul and Houdini’s wife weren’t the only ones to practice the occult. But God makes it quite clear that this is not the way He wants things to work. He wants us to depend on Him and not depend on mediums, or dressed up Halloween trick or treaters. The verse for tonight is from Saul’s encounter with the medium. In 1Sam. 28:15, Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” “I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”
Clearly, calling on the dead to tell you what to do is not the right course of action. My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God is always there to listen to your questions, concerns and problems. My prayer is that you will trust the living God with your deepest and most discomforting concerns. He loves you and is waiting to help you draw closer to Him. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…