Happy Halloween, Trunk or Treat, & Redeeming the Day

Happy Halloween! I used to say that all the time growing up and even into my adulthood. What does that greeting really mean, anyway? As a Christian, I was certainly not giving my endorsement to all things Satanic and demonic. It was simply meant as a way of acknowledging a holiday that is, for most kids (and even adults), about one thing and one thing only — CANDY! And, lots of it.

For many Christians, Halloween has become associated with spiritual darkness and the occult. Witches, vampires, ghouls, goblins, ghosts, and zombies now outnumber princesses and super heroes in the neighborhood on Halloween night. What to do? Retreat into our homes and turn off the lights, hoping against hope that no one will ring our doorbell? How about renaming Halloween as a Fall Festival” and giving out candy on a different day? Or, maybe we should just ignore Halloween altogether and wish that it goes away.

None of these alternatives are satisfying. That’s why many churches, including the church I pastor, have chosen to have a “Trunk-or-Treat” or some other “Fall Festival” ON Halloween. Instead of retreating from culture, we are choosing to engage culture, right where they are. And, on October 31, many in culture — particularly in Alamogordo, NM — are out trick-or-treating. Why not invite your neighbors to come to church, where they will not only get candy, but also get loved on by followers of Jesus Christ?

Some might argue that having activity on Halloween or otherwise acknowledging it as some legitimate holiday is tantamount to agreeing with all of the dark spiritual undertones of the day. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Does attending a baseball game at Coors Field or Anheuser-Busch Stadium mean that you are endorsing alcohol consumption? Does eating dinner with a gay neighbor somehow equate to your acceptance of homosexuality as compatible with Biblical Christianity? If you don’t know the answer to those questions, then I am probably not going to be helpful in the rest of this post.

October 31 is not some special day that is reserved for Satan. Halloween is not a day that God has given away to the enemy. The last day of October — just like every other day in the year — belongs to God. This is His day. While our culture — and cultures in every generation of human history — have used days for less than righteous purposes, that does not mean that we cannot redeem the day. Instead of a hands-off approach, we need to “attack” Halloween head-on. We need to show our neighbors that we love them and care for them. We need to reach out to our culture on our terms, not the enemy’s. That means inviting them to our homes, whether that be the church house or your own house:

Far too many Christians, especially of the fundamentalist variety, are worried about the church accommodating to culture.  Should the church and followers of Christ adjust, compromise, modify, or otherwise adapt” (one definition of accommodation) our theology, beliefs, message or actions to please culture in order to win the lost to Christ? Absolutely not!

Should churches and Christians be helpful and neighborly (another definition of accommodating) toward those who are our actual neighbors, even if those folks don’t act like prim and proper Christians on Halloween? Should the church seek to reach our friends and neighbors with the Gospel of Christ every day of the year, including on Halloween, or do we simply retreat behind closed doors and wait until those “pagans” get off “our” streets and out of “our” neighborhoods?

I suppose the answer to those questions ultimately comes down to which definition of “accommodation” you subscribe to.  Some fundamentalists will always be more comfortable railing against any “accommodation” by Christians to culture. They probably will never be comfortable sitting at a notorious sinner’s table and eating a meal with him. I’m just glad Jesus didn’t have that problem. Go figure. (“Accommodating Culture on Halloween” )

“This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!” As Christians, we should be able to sing that song 365 days a year. Why should Halloween be any different? This is God’s day. Today and tonight, let’s be the “salt and light” that God has called us to be and let’s show — in word and deed — God’s love to our neighbors, even those in costumes that the Church Lady wouldn’t approve!

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