The past few years I have browsed social media around Halloween time, and have witnessed a Christian house divided.
"It's just dress up and candy."
"It's the devil's day."
"Don't you know witches make sacrifices on this night?"
"It has pagan roots".
"Just read your Bible, and you will know whether to celebrate Halloween or not".
I used to be part of the Halloween haters. It's all about ghosts and demons and witches right?
Further learning, and a bit of personal growing in wisdom has shifted my perspective.
Imagine that this is your experience: A wonderful preacher has come to your community and told you about the true God, and how all others you previously celebrated are false. You love your newly found God! But a time honored family tradition that celebrates and petitions your old gods is coming. You want to honor the true God, but you don't want to leave your memorable family traditions either.
You pray about it, and come up with an idea. What if you took some of the elements of your old ways and renewed them in a way that would preach the new gospel that has changed your life? What if instead of hiding from the festivities (like a light under a bushel), you refocused them and used them to teach others about Jesus Christ and the afterlife?
From what I can read about ancient Halloween history, that is an extremely simplified explanation of what happened.
I talk and write often about early church example. We should gather together and be members of a church, because the early Christians set us this example after the teachings of Jesus.
If the early church felt okay with aligning it's major holidays to coincide with (and to eventually overshadow) the pagan holidays, why do so many Christians back away from the opportunity to evangelize or find a way to honor God on Halloween?
I believe whole heartedly that the churches who are present during Halloween, and who make an effort to reach out to the community, are those churches who are most like our early church ancestors. They didn't totally abandon their culture, but instead by partaking in a renewed and refocused tradition, THEY CHANGED THEIR CULTURE.
Any squabble with an atheist will run you both around to the history of Christmas traditions and Easter that have nothing to do with Christianity, except that the Christians changed the culture of the pagan people to honor the true God. Atheists love to point this out; they think it is a dent in our worship. It is not. The fact that early Christians loved their communities enough to show them the truth through a means that the people were familiar with is beautiful. It is the opposite of finger pointing and judgement; it is an outstretched hand bearing truth.
I'm not going to rewrite the history of Halloween in this post; a quick google search will que you in (and I have left some links at the end of this blog post). I would like to quickly point out some thoughts I have about common reservations against any Halloween celebration.
1) Even though it used to be a day all Christians got ready to pray for the faithful departed, it has now been tainted by a more secular meaning.
- Ok, have you ever heard of Santa and the Easter bunny? Do you reclaim and reaffirm the gospel message of these Holidays, or do you just sit them out?
2) Modern Witches make sacrifices and rituals on this night.
- Modern Witches are very in tune with the moon cycles and will follow a pattern of ritual that coincides with the moon phases. As wicca and folk magic become an increasingly popular "spiritual path" (and if you don't think that it is actually common culture today because you have been separated from it by a church pew, search a few hashtags on Instagram and you will have a new perspective). I have at least 4 friends from my childhood that legit practice a form of shamanism or wicca. This is in the south, "The Bible Belt". It was way cool in my old high school in the 90's to carry around a spell book in those mandated see through book bags. Those kids have grown up, and through a culture that embraces eastern / general spirituality / the universe as a deity, the worship of the natural elements (wicca) and their manipulation (magic) are not as uncommon as the Christian mainstream church-steeped culture understand. I posted on IG about the implications of now being able to buy spellbooks on Zullily, a website catering to everyday moms. Everyday moms are interested in casting spells. These are not cartoonish women with ugly moles. These are legging wearing, latte sipping, car line American moms. It is my opinion that Churches need to directly form missions for this population of our culture that is accepting certain fallacies of eastern religion and nature worship.
3) Dressing up as scary things celebrates evil.
- On the contrary, the tradition of wearing scary masks was to WARD OFF evil, witches, demons, and ghosts, on a night that the people believed that they may be able to roam the earth.
- I find it refreshing to have a time of year when I am not seen as totally off my rocker to speak of supernatural things. The soul, demons, hell. These things have almost become somewhat of fairy tale in our culture, and Halloween always presents a time to start the conversations: is there life after death? Can people really be so evil that lend themselves to possession? How do we combat this evil?
4) The Bible says that we are to avoid all pagan superstition.
- It sure does. But consider, if you have ever hosted or been to an American wedding, you participated in handed pagan superstition, repackaged to suit popular belifs.
Tossing the bouquet to determine what young lady will be married next is a form of accepted and not seriously taken divination; the bouquet itself a remnant from the practice of bringing a bundle of garlic to ward off evil spirits. The bridal party was an attempt to trick evil spirits as well, confusing them as to the identity of the bride and thereby stealing its opportunity to ruin her happiness. So much of the familiar wedding ceremony is inspired by superstition. My point is, we need to find the God honoring path of rejecting legalism, but avoiding practicing sin.
I applaud the churches that come out on Halloween, and shine their light within the darkness. They pass out candy, they become the sweetness of mercy and care. They are present. They are not afraid.
This Halloween, you can do somethings yourself to be a light in the darkness too.
~Talk honestly but lovingly about what paths are deceitful and what paths lead to life.
~Contemplate your walk with Jesus; in what ways do you cling to truth and faithfulness, and in what ways are you holding onto evil and sin?
~Talk about the faithful departed who are now with God personally and celebrate their lives, working to mimic them.
~Remember and teach that nothing is as scary as life without hope in Jesus Christ.
~ Educate yourself on the evolving traditions of Halloween and what they meant about what the different cultures believed. This is a great segway into talking about the gospel.
~Go out into your community and have fun. Fellowship and make bonds with people, knowing that by doing so you are creating the foundation of opportunities to be God's hands and feet for them when they are ready to hear the good news of Jesus.
Here are few links to read that give a much better account of the history than I did, and who have their own opinions and alternatives presented. They are a great place to begins a knowledgeable response to Halloween.
Have a Happy Halloween!
Check back on my blog for more insights on how I work to be a light for Jesus. If you follow my Instagram and Facebook account ( @amberlinbooks) you will be taking a personal glimpse at what I feel pressed upon my heart weekly through social feed devotionals and fun social media "stories" that show me working toward the best me I can be. I hope to inspire you, make you crack a smile, and be available to you to talk about the goodness of God. We are on this walk together, my friend.
Browse this site to learn more about my books on having a loving heart and empowerment for life changes via The Complainer's Journal and Workbook. Also, check out the babies of my book biz, my children's books that were created scrapbook style with my son.
Peace to you, abide in Christ.