Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween - a little Tricky

I originally wrote this at the bottom of my post with our Halloween pictures. But, it's a bit long, so I decided to make it a separate entry.

Since Halloween can be controversial amongst believers, here's my take on it.

As of right now, we obviously think it's okay to dress up and go trick or treating.

When I was a youth pastor (in Arizona), we chose to host a party and we showed a video about the reality of the evil that's done on Halloween amongst some people. It was appropriate because we were working with teenagers. The reality is that some people use that day to promote evil. We talked about the occult and the dangers of dabbling in spiritually dark things (Ouija boards, black magic, horoscopes, etc). Teenagers are typically exploring their faith and are making it their own. Therefore, we talked a lot about what their "options" were and showed them Truth. We spent time praying and then had times of worship.

However, my life right now finds me as a mama to four little ones. We have made several choices that have led us to allow our kids to participate in the "fun" of dressing up in costumes and getting candy on Halloween. We choose to send our kids to a public (charter) school. Therefore, our kids are exposed to Halloween and hear lots of talk about costumes. Trick or Treating for us is strictly the fun of costumes and candy so we allow our kids to participate.

We choose to make it a fun event, and we talk about how emphasizing death and fear is not something God wants us to do. In fact, we have a policy to not have any of the "scary" stuff at all--no blood, ghosts, witches, spider webs, etc.* My kids have enough fears already! We inevitably see scary things while we're out at this time of year (decorations in our neighborhood, costumes in Target). I like the fact that these things open the door for real communication with my kids. We have had some great conversations.

We also carve pumpkins and talk about the Gospel. We used a book last year called "The Pumpkin Gospel" by Mary Manz Simon. This year, we just carved little pumpkins and talked about the Gospel. Asa was asking some good questions and was telling me about the glow stick he was given at church and how our light is supposed to shine. Awesome!

I see Halloween as an opportunity to get to know my neighbors, as well. This year, I waited until the last minute so nothing got planned. But, next year I will probably do better. I see the need, especially as my kids are a getting older. I would like to organize a block party of sorts. Lots of people had their lights off, and I think there might be two reasons. First, darkness breeds darkness. It's much easier if your neighbor keeps their light off to then keep yours turned off (and not have to spend money on candy). In the past, I think we've had fewer and fewer kids come through our neighborhood so people just stopped trying. Second, there are lots of churches hosting "fall fests" and people go there because it's easy. I think it would be great to have our street lit up and to have more interaction with our neighbors. I did a neighborhood party a few years ago for Easter and it went really well. [I could go on and on about how we've taken community away from the places where we're planted --our neighborhood-- and made safe havens at churches where we all shine our light together but rarely shine it to those who need to see it most. But, I won't go on and on about that now.]

Whether you think Christians should or shouldn't participate in trick or treating, you should at least be asking the question. As believers, we are called to honor God with our lives. I lump trick or treating in there with all the things our culture puts out -- Santa, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, pinching people on St. Patrick's Day. For each "holiday", we have to examine the focus, decide what we believe honors the Lord and glorifies Him in our lives, and then not judge those who might not hold the same convictions. [That whole "judging" thing is another post topic, too.]

While I'm at it, I just have to say I don't get it when Christians have a costume party and then call it an "unhalloween" party or the like (Hallelujah party, Fall Festival, etc) when it's on the same night as trick or treating! It doesn't make sense to me to lump trick or treating in costume into the "evils" of Halloween and then try to do something alternative to that. I think it just looks ridiculous to the rest of the world.

Now, you can forget about Halloween for another year and move on to how you celebrate (or don't) Thanksgiving and Christmas!

*When it comes to "scary" things to see at Halloween, skeletons are my exception. I guess I just see them from a scientific viewpoint so I'm okay with them. I mean, they ARE what's under our skin! I once heard that a famous Christian kept a skeleton head on his desk to remind him of the eternal reality that we all die and only get this one life to make a difference for Christ. Or maybe it was something to do with memento mori.

4 comments:

  1. Megan I LOVE this comment:

    I could go on and on about how we've taken community away from the places where we're planted --our neighborhood-- and made safe havens at churches where we all shine our light together but rarely shine it to those who need to see it most. But, I won't go on and on about that now

    Feel free to expound on it in another post. I'll be reading. :)

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  2. I love your perspective on this, Megan!

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  3. Love it, Megan. We've been having those discussions also, and Brynne has that book! I didn't even have to draw the comparison with her...when we went to carve pumpkins, she immediately said, "is this like the yucky stuff that Jesus takes out of us?" :)
    I love the line in the parenting book we're reading now about Halloween being Satan's party that Jesus' followers should crash. What you wrote about reaching to your neighbors makes me think of just that. Great post!

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  4. I love this post. I found that this year, I actually enjoyed the opportunities that Halloween presented to talk about spiritual things with my kids. Such as ghosts vs what really happens when you die (a TOTAL Gospel opening!); scary monsters vs Satan & demons (what is real and what is not); the power of God over all these things gives us NO reason to fear; and the heart motivation behind what we do (like dressing up for fun vs celebrating evil). And the pumpkin patch parable is great!

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