Halloween…is there a “holiday” with a more mixed bag of symbols, understandings, and methods of celebrating? From devil-worshiping on one end to fundamental condemnation on the other (and lots of cute little kids in costumes jockeying for candy in the middle), Halloween just doesn’t know who it should be. That is perhaps no more obvious than when it comes to how the Church views it. I have seen churches that condemn it from the get-go, refusing to even use the word in their building. I have also seen churches who have full-blown Halloween parties, inviting children into their building (in full costume) for games, activities and treats. How can they both be right? The bottom line is…it (like most other things) is very much a personal choice. Individuals (as well as organizations) have to decide for themselves what they think.
Here’s what I do for Halloween. I go out and buy the biggest pumpkin I can find. I bring it home, and my sons design and carve whatever strikes them that particular year. (This year it was a very detailed Mario face. Don’t know Mario? Google it!) I take all the pumpkin seeds, wash them, soak them in salt water, and roast them. (They NEVER last beyond that afternoon!) Meanwhile, my younger son decides on a costume for the year. The only ground rules- it has to be something positive. (No vampires, ghouls, or ax murders in our house. The closest we have ever come to breaking that rule was a mildly dead ninja about 11 years ago!) This year he is going to be…Mario! (See a theme?!) Trick-or-Treating starts at 5:30 tonight in Our Town (hey…good name for a play!). We will hit a few houses of people we know (we DON’T go to houses we DON’T know), after which we will head to another church in town who does Trick or Trunk. (or is it Trunk or Treat…I can never remember!) They rim their parking lot with cars, trunks open, full of candy! After that, we will head to my church where the younger set of our community is invited to attend a special Halloween magic and juggling show put on by yours truly- pure fun with a subtle but unmistakable Christian theme. By 8PM, my family will be back in the “friendly confines” of home, with a happy dog greeting us at the door! Another great Halloween!
It seems to me church folk often try so hard to be “in the world but not of the world” that we want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We see the evil that is carried out under the guise of something like Halloween and we automatically distance ourselves from it. But…the rest of the world doesn’t! So when we step back, fold our arms and pronounce judgment, we automatically distance ourselves from the very people we claim to be trying to reach as well. If you read anything about history, all the “good” Christian holidays began as pagan celebrations, embraced and transformed by a fledgling Christian community. It seems to me, if we try so hard to prove we aren’t like “them”, all we do is alienate “them”. The kids in my community are GOING to celebrate Halloween. Perhaps it is my responsibility as a Christian to celebrate it WITH them, all the while gently and lovingly showing them a new understanding, a new way. How do YOU celebrate Halloween? Have a great day, check out the Prayer Request section (just below), join the Facebook fan site Twitter or email me, (all on the left side of the page), come back tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!