Halloween raises a lot of questions. Should we see this weekend as an incredible opportunity to build relationships with neighbors and the community-at-large, or should Halloween be something that Christians stand against or hide from? Should we react against Halloween like it's a vampire and we need to hold up a cross, or can we engage Halloween as a cultural celebration that can be redeemed for God's glory? In this article, we'll take a look at three questions: (1) Is Halloween evil? (2) Can my kids handle it? (3) Got any good ideas? Here goes:
- Is Halloween evil? This morning, I've been reading some great articles on the origins of Halloween. Halloween (and it's predecessors) has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts. When Christians began to influence the Celtic lands, Pope Boniface IV established All Saint's Day and All-hallows Eve as ways of redeeming the Celtic festival and celebrating church martyrs who were a testimony to the victory won in Christ. Christians dressed up their children as devils with red suits, horns, and a forked tail as way to mock him. No one thinks that the devil actually looks like this, but the idea is to taunt Satan, because he has lost the battle with Jesus and no longer has any power over us.
In our day, Halloween is big business. Some estimate that it is America's biggest party night. As a cultural celebration (mostly unrelated to its pagan roots), we cannot ignore it. Perhaps the best way to engage our neighbors and redeem the season is to participate in neighborhood parties and community events. There’s no gospel regulation that says, “Don’t dress up! Don’t give or receive candy!” In fact, Halloween is a great opportunity to acknowledge the demonic world and celebrate Jesus' victory over it with our un-churched friends.
- Can my kids handle it? While it may not be wise to engage in some Halloween activities, God has given us a mind and a community of believers to process decisions and activities with wisdom. Gospel freedom doesn’t forget gospel discernment. If my 4-year-old struggles with nightmares, because he saw a scene in a movie with zombies, then it is unwise to take him to a Haunted House where I know that a dead person will pop out of a grave at him. The average mom practices this kind of discernment every day. On the other hand, a child's fears give us a great opportunity to talk with them about the gospel. On Halloween, the most innocent activity may be met with something fearful for a child. Take this opportunity to talk about the reality of evil, Satan, sin, and death with your child, and how Christ has "defeated all of the monsters forever."
- Got any good ideas? Here are a couple of quick ideas as to how Halloween can be an opportunity to open your homes and lives to those around you.
1. Carve pumpkins. This has become a bit of a family tradition for us, and, though (I must confess) it hasn't been the best thing for meeting neighbors, it definitely gets us into the festivity of the neighborhood.
2. Go “Trick or Treat-ing" in your neighborhood and invite people over for coffee or cider afterward. This is a huge opportunity for interacting with people that you might otherwise rarely see or engage. We've met neighbors that we’d never even seen before!
3. Have a “Movie Night.” Gather your Community Group and friends, and show fun, family-friendly Halloween movies in your home--or even better--on a giant screen on the side of your house. Gather your neighbors to help you set up andserve popcorn / drinks. There is no better way to make friends than by throwing a party together.