As you might have seen in the shops, Hallowe’en is approaching, but is it as bad as Christians often think, or is it just harmless fun for the children?
Hallowe’en partly originates in the druidic festival, Samhain, the Celtic feast of the dead. The festival was a celebration to mark the end of the light half of the year and to welcome the dark half. At this time they believed the border between this world and the ‘other-world’ became thin, so good and bad spirits could get in. People would wear masks and disguises to ward off the evil spirits. Today, most of the current Hallowe’en practices can be traced back to these pagan rites and superstitions.
Christians of history tried to adopt the ‘holiday’ by celebrating All Saints’ Day. They saw that the pagan customs were becoming more and more popular, so they decided to provide an alternative custom in All Saints’ Day when they could remember and celebrate saints and the good they did.
Even today, Wiccans (a witch sect) will say that Hallowe’en is a Sabbat, a real high holy day for them. That’s quite scary! Some people really do celebrate a world of spiritual evil at Hallowe’en.
How do we respond?
So if Hallowe’en is a dark celebration, it might seem right to ignore it and hide away in our houses and churches. But if we do we are missing an opportunity to bring the light of Christ into the dark times. So what, as Christians, can we do?
The main things that we can do are pray and remember some key Biblical truths:
God is light (1 John 1:5, John 8:12)
The world is in darkness (John 12:46)
God saves from the darkness (Ephesians 5:8)
God tells us to shine like stars in this wicked and depraved generation as we hold out the word of life. We should hold on to God’s word as our source of truth and guidance. (Philippians 2:15-16)
Jesus is greater than the world (1 John 4:1-6)
We shouldn’t hide from this darkness in the world, but we should celebrate the good that Jesus has done for us. We don’t need to celebrate death when we have the way to life to share with people.
If you have children, or grandchildren, teach them what Hallowe’en is all about (without scaring them) and show them the alternative of life that there is in Jesus.
What about Trick or Treaters?
In the November ’03 Issue of Evangelicals Now, Tim Thornborough wrote what he does. I liked it, so I’m sharing some of what he said.
He does something that many of us would shy away from doing – he actually answers the door to them! But he doesn’t just give them sweets. He asks them a question. He asks, “Who do you think is the most powerful spiritual being in the world?” Of course kids are going to come up with answers, and he says no to most of them. He then asks a different question, “Okay, who do you think the devil is really scared of?” By now some kids can work out what he’s on about, but he gives them the answer anyway. This is what he says: “God sent a little baby once, who grew up into a man. He was the most powerful spiritual being who ever walked the earth – and his name was Jesus of Nazareth. Every time he met a demon, it screamed and fled. Every time the Devil tried to tempt him, he left frustrated. At the very moment that he’d thought he’d got Jesus – as he died on the cross – the trap snapped shut, and the Devil himself was defeated. So have a good time tonight – but don’t forget you’re supporting the losing side!” He then gives them a sweet and a gospel tract and sends them on their way. That might seem like a bit of a scary thing to do, but it is better than sitting at home with the lights off, and it’s a great opportunity to spread the Good News. We don’t have to go that far. We can simply explain that we are Christians, and that we don’t want to celebrate Halloween. That doesn’t mean that we are killjoys or spoilsports, and we can offer children a little doggybag, which contains a sweet treat or two, and a little booklet. The Good Book Company do some good ones. Two good examples are: Trick or Treat and A Friend in the Dark.
Some of us might have children or grandchildren that want to go out trick or treating, and it’s hard to dissuade them. One alternative to this is going and giving someone a treat. Go to someone’s house, perhaps an elderly neighbour or someone you know might be lonely, and take them a treat; it might be a good idea to phone first to let them know you’re coming. You could give a little wrapped sweet treat, together with either a little booklet, like those listed above, containing a message as to what you think about Hallowe’en, or a hand-written note saying that Jesus is the light of the world. This has two benefits: you get out of the house, and you get to take the gospel to people’s houses!
Remember, that the world, especially these children, are lost in the darkness, and only Jesus is the Light of the World. We can get a supply of tracts into the office if folks need them, so that you don’t have to buy a whole load yourselves.
We’re also looking into holding a Light Party, so that we can celebrate light with the children and to give them an alternative to the Hallowe’en parties that they may well get inivted to.