Saturday, October 31, 2009


I can’t stand Halloween.
I really don’t mind Halloween.

Yes, I’m conflicted. I guess when it comes to October 31, I have a love-hate relationship. Naturally, as a child, I looked forward to the annual foray into costumes, especially the plastic masks with the tiny eye, nose, and mouth slits that made me look like my favorite hero. I anticipated the sugar filled loot that would fill my bag after making the rounds of the neighborhood. We got freshly baked cookies, apples, and brownies with no fear of horrible people trying to poison us. One lady even gave out enchiladas! As I entered the teen years, I participated in church groups’ haunted houses and enjoyed the experience of passing off peeled grapes as eyeballs to unsuspecting visitors.

But as I got older, I began to see the other side of Halloween. I learned the murky history of the day. I discovered that some people take Halloween a whole lot more seriously than my friends or I ever did. The world that seemed so safe and innocent growing up had been transformed into a dark, ominous place full of strange grown ups who were very possibly and literally hell-bent on hurting children and puppies.

So how do I feel about Halloween now? Frankly, I feel like life would be easier if we could skip October 31. Unlike Christmas and Easter, Halloween has never shed its pagan pedigree. It has never been successfully transformed into a “Christian observance.” And even though Halloween in America is largely a secular observance, there is an undertone of scariness. I can’t even channel surf without being bombarded by commercials for gross horror movies. I can do without all that, mainly because there are enough real-life terrors around without the distraction of manufactured ones.

But do I fear Halloween? No. To be sure, as I said earlier, there are those for whom this holiday holds a deep and sinister significance. And we must be ever vigilant to protect our children as they roam the streets. But if we think that the devil is alive and active and on the prowl on October 31st, but ignore his schemes and devices the other 364 days of the year, we have, in my opinion, missed the point. The fact is, my God is greater than the devil and there is a plethora of Scripture to back up the fact that, through Jesus, we win the war! God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I believe quaking in fear and hiding out on October 31 sends the wrong message that somehow this night belongs to the devil. No way! This is the day the Lord has made…we will rejoice and be glad in it.

I’m a big supporter of alternate celebrations. Let the kids have fun and show some creativity, but direct it to a godly end. While I personally enjoy recognizing the launch of the Reformation (and watching the blank stares on everyone’s face), I like to take advantage of Halloween to tell people about Jesus. While it would be easier not to even bring Halloween up, it’s there….so let’s hit it head on, let’s plunder the Egyptians (Exodus 12), and maybe we can do what the historic church failed to do: transform this day to something pointing to Christ.

End of sermon….time to eat some candy!