To celebrate Halloween or not?

Several years ago I had to make a choice between following God and celebrating Halloween. I had an opportunity to go to Cursillo, but it was the same weekend as the annual Halloween party.  I chose Cursillo, and it made a huge difference in my life.  While I have been to subsequent parties, I really am wondering about it this year.

I am part of a social group that really likes Halloween. And when I say really like it, I mean that they decorate their homes for Halloween every day of the year. They eat sleep and breathe Halloween.

Don’t get me wrong – I like October and the crisp fall air the same as anyone else. I love free candy and I love the idea of costumes. But every year I have to start thinking to myself is this really the best way to show that I am a Christ follower?

Some of the people in the group are starting to discover the darker side of their hobby. They’re constantly getting sick and having to go to the emergency room. The husband is constantly being attacked by wasps. He could lose his life because of these little tiny things because he is so allergic. I think the same thing is true of his love for Halloween. Something that he sees as small and innocuous is leading towards death. The wife is now having nightmares and believes there is a poltergeist in their home.

The devil can’t bite you if you’re not playing with his tail.

The Bible tells us that every day we have a choice between life and death. We are asked to choose life, but it is a choice.

In the Hebrew scriptures God tells Israel repeatedly to make themselves holy because he is holy. They must purge the iniquity for among them. They must separate themselves out in order to remain a distinct and distinguished people. They are not to take up the habits or worship the idols or follow the traditions of the communities that they stay in. Then Jesus comes along and associates with the outcasts. Jesus does not advocate that we spend our lives separate from everyone else.  Jesus identifies with those who are lost or broken, those who are unable to connect. Jesus touches lepers and heals them. He heals people by including them.

So as Christians can we go to Halloween parties or not? Will it be an opportunity to minister to people who are lost?  Or will we “catch” their sickness?

The apostle Paul says that there is no harm to us in eating food sacrificed to idols.  But he does point out that it might cause harm to new believers.  They might get the wrong impression from our actions.

The party this year was called “Doc Satan’s Halloween Hoedown”.  That alone made me think twice.  Is that something I should associate myself with? Jesus can return at any time.  I like to think of this as a very serious version of “Musical Chairs”.  When the music stops – what are you doing?

I have gone to their Halloween parties in the past, and I thought of that group as my friends, but then I realized that they don’t invite me to their dinner parties on their trips.  They never comment or even “like” my Facebook posts.

I kind of feel like I’m getting sober, and seeing who my friends really are. I’m also feeling like it is time to stand up for what I believe in.

I thought about the bare minimum idea of how to celebrate Halloween – that giving candy out is symbolic of appeasing the evil spirits. And yet, to even do that is to say they have power, when the only Power that exists is God.

I appreciate Dia de los Muertos and All Saint’s day. I like what they stand for – of remembering loved ones who have died.  These celebrations are about remembering a life, rather than celebrating death.  They are more like a family reunion.

I decided not to go to the party, and when I saw the pictures of the male host dressed as Baphomet, I knew I had made the right decision.  It isn’t a fun little costume party when you dress up as a demon.

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This decoration was at the party.  Is this healthy to associate with?

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This Scripture is important – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” When you know better, do better.

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Halloween and Christianity

I’ve met a lot of people in the small community I work in who say that they don’t celebrate Halloween because “It’s the Devil’s holiday”.

There are a couple of points to be made. Halloween is, fully spelled out, “All Hallow’s Eve” – the name refers to the day before All Saints Day, which is observed on November 1st. The word “hallows” refers to “hallowed”, meaning “sacred”. All Saints Day is a holiday that is primarily observed by Catholics and Episcopalians. All other Christian denominations generally have no idea of its existence, thus they don’t know what the word “Halloween” refers to. All Saints Day is the day to remember and honor all the famous people who have died who were strong in their faith and lead the way for us. This includes people such as Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Patrick, and Mother Theresa. They are our role models in faith. Lesser known is that November 2nd is “All Soul’s Day” – where we remember all the people we know and love who have passed on. This includes any relatives or friends we might have who have inspired us to be better people.

Another point is that we believe that there is just one God. To give any power to another force is in violation of the commandment saying “You shall have no other gods before me.” Everything is from God. To personify the idea of evil and to ascribe power to it is to say that there is another god, which is not possible. To say that it has power over you verges on idolatry. So remember that God is in charge, first and foremost.

When I was at Cursillo, I received a bookmark that really helped re-frame Halloween for me. I’ve reworded it a little to polish it up. Here you go –

Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God chooses you, raises you up, takes you in and washes the dirt off of you. He opens you up, reaches deep inside, and scoops out all the yucky stuff – including seeds of doubt, hate, greed, and the like. Then God carves a new smiling face for you and puts His light inside of you to shine for all of the world to see.

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (and) Jesus’ gift of peace

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will. You will live because I live. Then you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am within you. The one who loves me is the one who knows and follows my teaching. The one who loves me is also loved by my Father. I will love him as well and I will reveal myself to him.”

The other Judas said to Jesus, “Lord how are you going to reveal yourself to us but not the world?”

Jesus said “Anyone who loves me follows my teaching. Then my Father will love him and my Father and I will make our home within him. Anyone who doesn’t follow my teachings doesn’t love me. What I’m telling you is not from me. It comes from the Father who sent me. I have told you these things while I’m here with you. But the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of what I have told you.”

JN 14:19-26

Jesus’ gift of peace

“I leave you with the gift of my peace. I don’t give gifts to you like the world does. Don’t let your heart be troubled or afraid. You’ve heard me say that I am going away but I’m returning to you. If you love me, you should be overjoyed that I am going to the Father, because the Father surpasses me. I’ve told you this now so you can believe when it happens. I’m not going to speak with you for much longer because the Devil, the ruler of the world, is coming. He has no power over me because nothing of him is within me. Instead, I’m going away to show the world that I love the Father and do as he commands me to do. Now get up – it is time to leave here.”

JN 14:27-31

The Temptation

Then Jesus returned from the Jordan, filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for 40 days. He ate nothing while he was there and was very hungry at the end of that time.

The devil approached him and said “If you are truly the Son of God, then you should tell this stone to become bread so you can eat.” But Jesus answered him “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from God.’”

Then the devil took Jesus up onto a high mountain and he showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor in a twinkling of the eye. He said “I will give all of this to you because it has been given to me and I can give it to anyone I want. It will all be yours if you will fall on your knees and worship me.” Jesus answered him “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”

So then the devil took him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the top of the Temple and said “If you are the Son of God, then throw yourself down from here, for it is written ‘He will order his angels to take care of you. They will lift you up with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus said “It is also written: ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’”

Then the devil left him and immediately the angels came and began to serve him.

MT 4:1-11, MK 1:12-13, LK 4:1-13

The parable of the wheat and the weeds.

Jesus offered his listeners another parable. “The kingdom of heaven may be thought of as being like a farmer who sowed good wheat seed in his field. One night while he slept his enemy came and planted weeds in amongst the good wheat seed. Later the plants sprouted. The wheat and weeds had grown up together.

The man’s servants asked him ‘Didn’t you only sow wheat here? Then why are there weeds?’

‘This was done by an enemy!’ he said.

His servants asked him ‘Do you want us to pull out the weeds?’

‘No’ he said. ‘You might accidentally uproot the good wheat at the same time. Let them both grow together until harvest time. Then I will tell the reapers to sort out the weeds, tie them in bundles, and burn them, but put the wheat in the barn.'”

MT 13:24-30