Encouragement From The Word

Playing with fire

Have you noticed that a lot of people seem a bit obsessed with Hallowe’en?

I’m not talking about kids going out and soliciting sugary treats from neighbours here – I’m talking about grown up adults who have turned the month of October into a season of macabre decorating.

In one sense, there can be much fun in this.  After all, many people – sometimes, the same people! – have fun decorating for Christmas.  I suspect that most people who make a big deal out of Hallowe’en do so simply for fun.

But there can be a darker side to this fun.

When adult celebrations of Hallowe’en become more about the spiritual realm, we’ve moved from fun to fire.  And dabbling in the spiritual realm is playing with fire.

What followers of Jesus need to understand – and remember – is that while much of life on this earth is fun and enjoyable, we fight a spiritual battle every day.

Every day, there are attempts made by the devil and his angels to undermine the work of God, and all work for good, in this world.  And God’s people have a responsibility to fight those attempts, not celebrate them.

By all means, go and buy yourself a bag of ‘fun size’ chocolate bars; I recommend waiting until All Saints’ Day (November 1), when stores have these treats on a deep discount.  But don’t celebrate that which the Lord works to destroy.

If you choose to take your children trick-or-treating, let them have fun with it. But take the time to explain to them that what we are doing is a fun way to meet neighbours and get some treats. As they get older, help them realize that there is a spiritual realm from which they require protection from God the Holy Spirit, and that Hallowe’en shouldn’t go beyond the realm of fun for people who belong to Jesus.

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3.8, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Let your light shine…through a pumpkin?

There are varying opinions among followers of Jesus regarding what to do about Hallowe’en. Some say we should steer clear of it because God’s people shouldn’t be celebrating the devil’s holiday. Others say we should engage, either because it’s just dressing up for fun or because it’s a way to witness to the community.

I have some sympathy with each side, I must admit.

Hallowe’en is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve, the day marked in the liturgical calendar ahead of All Hallows’ Day, or All Saints’ Day, which is November 1. Its origins, my wife reminds me, are Christian: poor children would go door-to-door in search of food. Prayers would be said over homes. The needy would be cared for. God’s work would be done. Only later did a more sinister element come into the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve.

The devilish twist that has come to Hallowe’en is yet another mark of the depravity of humanity. The idea that anyone would throw eggs at the homes of those who do not give out candy is not part of the original plan. Rolling large pumpkins down hills and having them splat into whatever got in their way is not what the poor children of small English towns were seeking to have happen. Putting poison in apples or razor blades in candies is not what was intended for marking All Hallows’ Eve.

Can Hallowe’en be redeemed? For a while, one would see ‘alternative’ gatherings, where kids were asked to dress up as their favourite Bible character and come to the church. But it just wasn’t the same for anybody. There are still alternative activities that are offered, and they can be fun.

Taking your kids around to neighbours’ homes can be a way to build bridges with your neighbours, perhaps leading to relationships that could help you share God’s love. Opening your home to kids who come seeking goodies can be valuable, too. Carve a cross into your pumpkin (to ‘let your light shine’!). Don’t wear a scary costume. Engage the kids in real conversation. On top of that, opening your door to trick-or-treaters can be a way to get Scripture into their, and their parents’, hands and hearts. I especially recommend Scripture selections – little snippets from the Bible on pertinent topics – from the Canadian Bible Society. They aren’t doctrinal in nature – just offering pure Scripture in an easy-to-read translation that will give the kids who come to your door something to think about…something to chew on as they chew on the goodies you’ve given them!

But if you’re going to mark Hallowe’en as a form of Christian witness, make sure the candy you put in beside the Scripture selection is really good stuff. After all, the Bible tells us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34.8a, NIV)!

By the way, more important than Hallowe’en, today is Reformation Day. It was on this day in 1517 that Augustinian monk Martin Luther made public 95 ideas for reforming the church from the inside. In today’s terms, it “went viral”, and began the Protestant Reformation. Happy Reformation Day! May the Lord bless you in whatever way you celebrate.