I must admit that I’m not all that big a fan of Halloween. Pumpkins are fine. And I’ve even been a scarecrow once or twice in my adult life. But times have changed a lot since I was a kid.
When I was young, my brother and I used to love dressing up and going door-to-door on our country road, collecting all kinds of candy from the neighbors. Of course, that was then — and this is now. The big difference is that people in our community actually knew our neighbors. We visited with each other. We cared for each other during tough times. We shared meals and exchanged homegrown vegetables and homemade jams.
These days the busyness of life keeps many of us from knowing our neighbors on a personal level — or perhaps even wanting to be known.
As parents we are faced with more serious challenges today. If you watch the news at all, you certainly understand that parents just can’t be too cautious about the safety of their kids. Gangbangers, drug dealers, and sex offenders too often find themselves nestled in the middle of quiet and unassuming neighborhoods . . . so much so that, at least for my family, traditional trick-or-treating is simply not a viable option.
I enjoy seeing kids in costumes. Adults? Not so much. And I really don’t care at all for scary costumes. I think some of the school and church harvest carnivals provide a good family-friendly alternative — if they’re actually held on Halloween. Too often I think these events just provide an opportunity for layering the candy-collecting craze (or should I say calorie-collecting?).
How do I feel about Halloween? Well, that’s not exactly an easy question for me to answer. I suppose it has much to do with what it means to you. If it’s about death, devils, and demons, I really want nothing to do with it. If it’s about seeing kids dress up in fun costumes and having some family fun — particularly in a safe, church or school setting — then I think it can be OK.
I guess my real concern lies in seeing our schools focus more on Halloween than Christmas. And, yes, that’s definitely happening in many places. We don’t seem to mind legislating Jesus out of our schools, but the devil is always welcome.
In some ways though, I must confess that I think Halloween is probably one of the biggest ways in which believers have become a part of the world rather than just people passing through it. And as I listen to myself, I suppose my own seeming ambivalence underscores the significance of the issue.
The truth is that as believers, we’ve become pretty good at developing ways to share the Gospel during this hotly contested time of year. Through the Pumpkin Patch Parable, special tracts, and outreach events, many churches have worked to make the best of it.
However, one thought keeps coming to me: Just as a recovering alcoholic shouldn’t hang out in a bar, a growing believer shouldn’t flirt with evil. And no matter how we dress it up, Halloween is at its core a celebration of darkness.
1 John 1:5b says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
Hmmm . . . maybe I need to spend more time being in the Light than looking for ways to excuse playing in the dark.
But boy, how good we’ve gotten at justifying that!
IT’S YOUR TURN!
- I’m really interested. What are your thoughts on Halloween?
- If you’re a Christian, do you ‘observe’ the day — and if so, how?