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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hello, Halloween!




I love living in the country most of the time. There's one day of the year, however, that I always regret the rural seclusion. It's Halloween. If ever I want to be in a residential neighborhood full of traffic and people, it's on October 31.

Yet year after year I observe the same strange phenomenon among evangelicals: The people who travel across oceans to reach the lost are the same ones who shut themselves behind closed curtains on the one night of the year that scores of unsaved walk by their darkened doorway. The people who preach on city corners and pass out tracts are the same ones who lock their doors to a spiritually hungry multitude that knocks, literally holding their hands open for whatever we might give them--if only we were available.

Would somebody please tell me why Christians would rather turn off their lights and hole up in the basement during the greatest ministry opportunity to ever come to their neighborhood? While you're coming up with the answer, I'm getting ready to go trick-or-treating. Yep. Taking my kids and going to collect gobs of sugary junk. If they won't come to me, I'm going to them. For me, it's good-bye country, hello city. Good-bye selfishness and legalism, hello love and liberty. I've got my costume on, including feet that are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. One never knows what conversations might ensue; if I can touch one life with a word in season to the weary, it's worth every cavity and potential pass of judgment from my non-celebrating friends.

Besides all that (for those that would label me an opportunist), I just want to be where the people are. I once read of a young carpenter who felt the same way. This is the main reason I take my family trick-or-treating.

If you want to join me, I'll be walking around Elmira's West side with Cleopatra, Pocahontas, a ladybug and Snow White.

(It is with fear and trembling that I have written this post. One of my pet peeves is when Christian's offend others with their so-called "freedom in Christ." Jesus said that it would be better for me if a millstone were tied around my neck than to make a little one stumble. So listen up, you young'uns still living under your parents' roof: Don't even think about using this post to con Mom and Dad into letting you do the Halloween thing. In a few years, you'll have your own family and will be able to make that decision yourself. For now, if you go against your parents' authority, you go against God. Be afraid. Be very afraaaaaaaaaid!) ;)

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know where you stand on this now. Halloween was great fun as a kid and with my kids and then all my Christian friends said I shouldn't and showed very convincing reasons based on the reasoning behind all the fun.
I still feel torn about it and now am a grama & my grandchildren go and I don't know how to respond. I hate missing out on the fun but don't want to misrepresent Christ either. None of my chidren are activily walking with the Lord (attend church.) I'd love to be a part of this fun but...

Faith said...

Dear Anonymous,

I still feel the same way. A few things influenced my thinking on the subject:

1. A few years ago Focus on the Family (Dr. Dobson) hosted a radio guest who advocated the celebration of Halloween as "All Saints Day", to commemorate saints and martyrs of old.

2. One of my fondest childhood memories is trick-or-treating with my mom. My brother and I dressed up as Raggedy Ann/Andy one year, and Charlie Brown/Lucy another year. There was never any hint or mention of Halloween being something we shouldn't take part in. This was in a fundamental, evangelical pastor's home.

3. I started coming across friends I respect who are "closet trick-or-treaters." These are strong Christians, homeschoolers, etc. They made me think for myself.

We go to an upscale neighborhood each year as a family (other neighborhoods tend to lack discretion in their Halloween displays, and scare little kids. Plus, they give too many tootsie rolls!) The whole affair is great family time spent together--deciding on costumes, and making them. Walking the streets together, sharing candy w/Mom and Dad (Mom gets all the chocolate). We never know who we're going to meet up with on the street, and what conversations will arise. I dare say there are God appointments awaiting when we throw off legalism and go touch the world Jesus died for.

But this is my personal conviction on the matter. You have to follow YOUR heart--and no one else's. :)

We ignore all the develish stuff that goes with Halloween. I like to think that it drives Satan crazy that we can enjoy "his holiday" without giving him a second's thought. He can't touch us. Some would say we are opening ourselves up to his influence. I believe that is a matter of obedience to our conscience. We are not in willful disobedience if our hearts/minds are at rest before God on the matter. I think there are a lot more things that give Satan a stronghold--like bitterness, unforgiveness, and judging people of different convictions!

I don't broadcast to everyone around me that we do Halloween. (Just on the world wide web! ;)

Thanks for your question. I hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Yes thank you, I will pray about it and see what the Lord shows me as my personal directon. Prior to walking seriously with the Lord we definitely allowed walking on the dark side of Halloween and saw it as harmless fun (and went to church parties as well!) It caused alot of problems with our kids esp the ones that didn't live with us. Thanks for the response. God bless!

seekingHim said...

I would have to respectfully disagree. Jesus was among the people but I don't remember him participating in events or traditions that would have represented something evil. He did not sit down and help the people count their money at the temple. I think the right anology would be to take a walk on holloween in normal clothing if you want to be among the people. Greet them as they go by, show them the love of Jesus, and pray for opprotunity to share. But I think partaking in the events is being completely of it and not just in it and would give the impression of the holiday being acceptable. We could go into the history of Holloween as many have defended it's origins having been "Christian" but that does not apply to what it has become today. It does not take but a mere search of "holloween" on google to show what it represents today. I have no guilt in my lack of celabrating as it is just one other way I am not of this world- just like many other choices we make or don't make as Christians differ from that of the world. But maybe when my kids are old enough to understand we will take that walk on holloween night and be among the people.

seekingHim said...

* holloween "images" on google

cacia said...

Good for you Faith...it takes some guts to be honest and sensitive all at the same time......
YOU know growing up as probably similar to me... that was something to decide on our own, what Jesus would really do... and then not be afraid to step out in it. It's only in the last 3-4 yrs that we've felt comfortable enough to just treat this as an opportunity for a fun family time that honestly HAS nothing to do with satan. Our kids know why we celebrate it in our way, and they want nothing to do with the scary stuff, yet THEY ADORE DRESSING UP! I like the "all saints day" aspect...I had kind of forgotten about that, thanks for the reminder.
Also we figure--what good is it going to do for our friend who aren't saved if we stick to our "this is not something we do" stance, when so many of them also see it as a "dress-up" holiday? Sure some of them get into scary costumes, but as we share God's love with them in tangible ways(meals together, actual halloween parties, it has strengthened our relationship with them and I feel they trust us more, even knowing that we care Christians)
I don't think many Christians realize that the actual Christmas Day we celebrate has pagan roots, but we still "make it our own"...God can turn anything the enemy has evil intents for to something great for him!
I am glad I can have the freedom to not worry about this anymore! I was even thinking of dressing up this year..the few years I did this as a kid, i still remember as being so fun!

Faith said...

Cacia, Great point about Christmas! Do dress up, you're kids will think you're the mom goddess! (Hey, I just got an idea for a costume! ;)

Jackie said...

You go girl! I'm 100% behind you.
Some years ago my husband and I were offered the opportunity to spend some time at an "adult" motel with the ok to witness any way we wanted. The circumstances being that a christian friend (along with her brother)had inherited the motel from their father and because of her brother not wanting to change the business she was prevented from doing what she wanted. There was a house on the property that was made available to us. We moved in, started meetings in the house and proceeded to help with the chores. We cleaned the rooms and prayed over them constantly. We got in touch with Dave Wilkerson and told him of our opportunity - he provided us with cartons of his book "The Cross and the Swithblade" we kept the rooms stocked with them. We placed a note with them that they were free. There were hundreds taken. We prayed with all those that were open. the harvest was great. The owner finally was able to sell the property to an organization that turned it into a retirment facility for the elderly.

What a mission field that was. We need to be ready to "preach the Word" at every opportunity.
On halloween I wear my Star Trek uniform - I'm an ordained minister so I have a chaplin's uniform. After all I'm a chaplin to the universe. I even have a Klingon New Teatiment, really!

Faith said...

Dear Seeking Him,
Thank you so much for your feedback. That is exactly the stance we took as a family five years ago. So I greatly respect and appreciate your view; you make some valid points. This is just where I am on the matter right now. My intent is simply to make us think, and to think more graciously toward others. To show perhaps another facet of God's manifold wisdom (Eph. 2). As a friend of mine says, "Grace is understanding the 'why' behind what people do."

May God's richest blessings be upon you!
Faith

Faith said...

Great story, Jackie! Thanks for sharing. You saw a pearl in that motel, where others may have seen a menacing grain of sand.

j frost said...

Hey Faith,
I didn't read this one before...somehow just didn't go back this far or something.
I have to agree with you...I'm not in a lot of agreement with a couple of commenters, but that isn't always a bad thing either.
I have questioned for years this whole thing. For a time, we were part of a leadership team that made a decision to not participate in any way with the celebration of Halloween. To even rename it and make it righteous or holy by calling it "Harvest Celebration" or as it is now being called by the same kind of folks "Trunk or Treat"...their stand was that we had just dressed up evil in pretty clothes. So we didn't let our kids have the fun...that was the older two. We let the "second family" (the two born quite a bit later) enjoy it all they could. Nothing bizarre happened...they didn't become freaks or have nightmares and don't seem to be spiritually malformed. In fact, the ability to use the creative nature that is within them seems to be enhanced as they find ways to express some of their desire to act or sing or use whatever artistic method they desire.
The two elder children, now grown and well on their own have also engaged in the celebration. The have done so with a gusto of freedom- 'why didn't you let us do this when we were kids?' kind of thing. At the same time, the do not become some abhorrent creature of the darkness in their expressions.
One of the things that came to me as we limited the elder two over the years was the fact that Christians set up this particular holiday to bash. How many have also looked seriously at the "holy" holidays and discovered the evil behind the christmas tree or the easter bunny? Rare is the decision then to not dress a dead tree in finery and give it a place of honor in the house. And few of them also will neglect to give an easter basket to those same children who were denied the same composition of ingredients in orange and brown.
I have had to come to understand Paul's teaching where he talked of one day being holy to one person, and another treating all days the same. As for me, I kind of fall into the later category. Even while preaching for several years, I was accused of ignoring the holiday at hand. I finally told the folks it wasn't because I wanted to ignore the days...it was simply that I just didn't pay any attention to what was going on!
As for being able to reach folks during such a time: I say 'go for it'!. Whatever tools are at hand are fair game to be able to reach into another's heart and make contact. There is no time or place to hold back, and shutting one's self in and closing the doors and pulling the drapes and turning off the lights is a sure way to close off opportunity.