Blog Post: Halloween: Extreme or Redeem?
Where will you be this Halloween? Will you be at the back of your house with the blinds closed, the lights low and the door bolted? Will you be out on the streets or at the party, dressed up (or marshalling children who are dressed up) as a witch’s cat or a ghost?
Often our approach to Halloween can tend towards one of two extremes. We retreat out of fear or disgust at this dark night. We remove ourselves from society, hiding behind closed doors or within ‘light parties’ just for Christians. OR we partake without a moment’s thought about the substance of All Hallows Eve. I know that I have been guilty of both extremes.
I would like to suggest that the gospel compels us to accept neither extreme but to consider how we might redeem Halloween for the glory of Christ. Jesus wants us not to be of the world, nor to be out of the world. Instead he sends us into the world with a job to do. “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” John 17:18.
The darkest day in the history of mankind, when the forces of evil appeared most potent, was the day Satan and our sinful race murdered the Creator. But it was in that darkness, and Christ’s supposed weakness that Christ triumphed, “having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Col 2:15. The fight with spiritual evil is real – “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but ... against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12. We underestimate Satan and sin at our peril (or our children’s peril). But Christ has the victory, and through faith in the gospel we can stand against the devil’s schemes and can know that not even the gates of hell will prevail against us. So with our confidence in Christ, why not turn the tables on Satan, and use the dark night of Halloween as an occasion to extend Christ’s cause on precisely the night when Satan seems most at ease?
So how do we advance rather than retreat, or transform rather than conform? How do we redeem Halloween. For once our communities become alive and visible, so let’s be amongst them, be better than, bless them. How?
Treat, don’t trick.
The best treats and welcome: Hand out the best treats in the neighbourhood and offer the warmest welcome, as the faintest echo of extravagant grace and undeserved welcome God has shown sinners like us.
Consider the Parents: Offer parents something too, a hot fruit drink in a plastic cup, or a cocktail sausage.
Comment on the Costumes: Even if you don’t like the substance of the costumes, comment on the effort the children have gone to and build them up with your words.
Throw a party: you could gather the families, before and after they trick-or-treat, in your home. Maybe send the Dads out with the kids while the mums get to stay and chat.
Meet, don’t retreat:
Hang around on the doorstep or on the drive, so you can chat to the families for a bit longer when they pass.
Dress up in costumes that are noticeable and yet God honouring, maybe giving you a chance to speak of why you’ve dressed differently and what hope you have in Christ.
Go to the party: if you’re invited! Offer to bring something or to help clear up. Learn who these people really are so that we can learn better how to love them and share Christ with them.
Pray, don’t dismay:
This is something we can all do, whatever our life situation. If we have families, let’s pray with our children. If we live alone let’s pray for our neighbourhood. If we live with those who don’t know Jesus pray for them.
Let’s pray that they would realise that Jesus has defeated evil and wants people to walk in the light. Pray that the God who said “let light shine out of darkness” would shine in their hearts to give them “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
In Christ’s name, let’s redeem Halloween.
Originally written in 2012.
Sources: Heavily reliant on two excellent blog posts: 1) Desiring God blog: “Sent into the Harvest: Halloween on Mission” and 2) Alex Absalom: “On Mission this Halloween”.