Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hallowe'en thoughts

Original post from Nov 5, 2010, 8:32pm

Okay, so here's the deal. Every Oct 31 churches go through the debate - should we or shouldn't we participate in Hallowe'en? While I don't agree with dressing up as something like a zombie or vampire or so on, I do think we can use Hallowe'en as a time to be a witness. It's amazing that some people think it is a religious holiday. Maybe for the church of Satan and so on, but not Christians. I respect when people choose not to be part, not hand out candy, not allow their kids to go out trick or treating and so on. For them it is the right thing to do.

For us as a family, we have always tried to use this as a means to witness for God on a night when it is usually not seen as such. I will carve Christian themes into pumpkins such as the image of Christ, a cross, a crown of thorns and nails, or something like that. My boys are allowed to go out as long as they dress as something from the Bible or something Christian themed. For instance this year, my oldest went as King Josiah after we got a little king outfit for him. This is based on the fact that King Josiah was only 8 years old when he assumed the throne of Israel and he pleased the Lord all of his days. Since my boy is the same age right now, we thought this would be a cool thing for him to do - to be able to identify with a young boy who at the same age did so much for God. Our youngest went as Bibleman! I made the costume for my oldest originally like 4 years ago. We bought the mask, cape, and sword all those years ago, and then I took the time to dye some old clothes purple, and use fabric paint to paint on the Bibleman armour and symbol. It did spark a lot of responses around the neighbourhood. I was an angel using huge wings I had made years ago, and my wife was a bird - one of God's creations.

Another thing we did was to play Life 100.3 FM throughout the entire time of kids coming the door. A night when the atmosphere is usually not glorifying to God, we made a statement to praise God and be that light in the darkness with what we did. I have done this type of thing since before I got married, and my family carries on the tradition now. Just one way to bring the Light of the Gospel out on a night when it would usually be forgotten.

So whatever believers do on Hallowe'en is their choice. In doing what we've done, we have never had anyone say it was a bad idea, but rather a unique way to witness on the darkest night of the year. Whatever a believer does on this night is up to them, and we all need to respect the choices made. The only choice I would be concerned about is if the believer has a yard decorated with tomb stones, ghosts, etc... and they dressed up as some kind of night creature like a zombie, vampire, werewolf, etc... We don't need to give the enemy anymore help in that department. I hope this helps stir some talk about Hallowe'en and maybe some pauses for thought about how we can as believers turn this night into an opportunity to share the Good News of Christ.


UPDATE from Oct 22, 2012, 12:43pm 

Here is a devotional I did for a youth group before about the history of Hallowe'en and what a Christian response can be to it today...

Halloween originated with the ancient religion of the Celtics in Ireland. The Celtic people were very conscious of the spiritual world and had their own ideas of how they could gain access to it - such as by helping their over 300 gods to defeat their enemies in battle, or by imitating the gods in showing cleverness and cunning. It was originally called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween) at the end of summer (Nov. 1). They believed Samhain was a time when the division between the two worlds became very thin, when hostile supernatural forces were active and ghosts and spirits were free to wander as they wished.
"During this interval the normal order of the universe is suspended, the barriers between the natural and the supernatural are temporarily removed, the sidh lies open and all divine beings and the spirits of the dead move freely among men and interfere sometimes violently, in their affairs"
(Celtic Mythology, p. 127).
During the Festival of Samhain, fires would be lit which would burn all through the winter and sacrifices would be offered to the gods on the fires, this would include animal and sometimes human sacrifice. Note, that sacrifices still occur on Halloween even here in North America, but by other cults and Satanic rituals now. This would happen just down the road only about 10 – 20 mintues away from the Bible college I went to in New York State for a year. We would be praying on our campus while these types of animal sacrifices would be happening not far away.
As the influence of Christianity spread into Celtic lands, in the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs, to replace the pagan festival of the dead. It was observed on May 13. In 834, Gregory III moved All Saint's Day from May 13 to Nov. 1 and for Christians, this became an opportunity for remembering before God all the saints who had died and all the dead in the Christian community. Oct. 31 thus became All Hallows' Eve ('hallow' means 'saint').
In 1517, a monk named Martin Luther honored the faithful saints of the past by choosing All Saints Day (November 1) as the day to publicly charge the Church heirarchy with abandoning biblical faith. This became known as "Reformation Day," a fitting celebration of the restoration the same biblical faith held by the saints throughout church history.
What should Christians do with Halloween?
As an alternative to the celebration of evil and death, Christians should rather do what Christians are supposed to do every day and that is shine the light of Jesus Christ. We should emphasize the Christian influences and strive to make Hallow's Eve a celebration of the acts of God through his people the saints. We should make it a day when acts of charity and a day that emphasizes the light of Christ instead of the darkness of evil. A day when people meditate on the acts of Godly people instead of ghosts and goblins.

So why have a Halloween Alternative like All Saints’ Day? To celebrate those who have gone before us that have been faithful to the Lord and have been an example to follow, to remind us to be an example to follow as we walk out our faith. The tradition of dressing up for Halloween was to try and fool spirits to think that the wearer was one of them so as to not be tricked by them or worse. So why have a dressing up contest here for us? Biblical themed costumes remind us of what God has done for us, what He is doing, and what He will do. It is not to appease some evil spirit, but more a reflection and celebration of our faith. Seeing examples of Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Samson, an apostle, even the very creation of the Lord from animals to trees to rocks tell of the Creator’s love for us and how He has been faithful, and continues to be that way to us. The tradition of carving out a pumpkin was originally to show the ancient symbols of damned souls, and to ward off demons. Today we can use the pumpkin to carve out testimonials to Christ such as the symbol of the cross, a carving of His face, the crown of thorns and the nails, other symbols of our faith to cause others to stop and think of Jesus. I once had Jesus carved out on my pumpkin on the front step and a kid at the door asked who the hippie was and his friend said, “That’s God stupid!” So pumpkin carving can be a time to share our faith through visual representations. So as we move into the activities tonight, think about these things. We are not celebrating Halloween; rather, we are celebrating God and His faithfulness to us as shown through the testimony of His saints over the years. This is why we celebrate All Saints’ Day and not Halloween. We can participate in Halloween in that we can testify about Jesus through our costumes and hand out candy with maybe tracts, play Christian music at the door like having Life 100.3 FM playing through the night instead of haunted house music, and more.
Scriptural References:
• The apostle Paul said Witchcraft is one of the acts of the sinful nature and those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:16-21; see also Revelation 22:15).
• As believers, we are called to "Put everything to the test. Accept what is good and don't have anything to do with evil. [1 Thessalonians 5:21-22] or as other versions put it "Abstain from all appearance of evil." [1Thessalonians 5:22]
• Who can deny that virtually all of the symbols of Halloween are evil? Witches, monsters, ogres, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, devils and demons all portray evil. Christians are to "Don't take part in doing those worthless things that are done in the dark. Instead, show how wrong they are” [Ephesians 5:11]
• " Stay away from people who are not followers of the Lord! Can someone who is good get along with someone who is evil? Are light and darkness the same? Is Christ a friend of Satan? Can people who follow the Lord have anything in common with those who don't?” [2 Corinthians 6:14, 15]
• " Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack.” Or devour as other versions put it. (1 Peter 5:8)

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