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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A revised Motorist’s Prayer

I came across the Motorist’s Prayer while searching for the prayers to use with a Saint Christopher chaplet. A chaplet is small devotional set of beads for a specific intention, like a rosary, but often smaller. The prayers are unique for each chaplet.
————-

The Motorist’s Prayer (original)

Grant me, O Lord, a steady hand and watchful eye
that no one shall be hurt as I pass by.
You gave life, I pray no act of mine
may take away or mar that gift of Thine.
Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear my company
from the evils of fire and all calamity.
Teach me to use my car for others need;
Nor miss through love of undue speed
the beauty of the world; that thus I may,
with joy and courtesy, go on my way.
Saint Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me and lead me safely to my destiny. Amen.

——————-

But I don’t like it because it is in sing-song rhyme. The rhyme gets in the way of being able to really understand the words. Perhaps it makes it easier for some people to memorize when it is in rhyme, but for me then that means there is a chance that the words become vain repetitions – something Jesus warns us against.

I’ve rewritten it without the rhyme, keeping as many of the original words as possible.
—————–
The Motorist’s Prayer (revised)
Heavenly Father, grant that my hand is steady and my eye watchful so that I bring no harm to those I pass by today.
Help me to remember that that You are the giver of life, so that I do not take away or harm Your gift.
Take care of my passengers so that no harm comes to them.
Teach me to use my car to help others and to not miss the glory of Your creation because I am speeding.
Help me to travel through Your creation with joy and courtesy.
Lord, with Saint Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me and lead me safely to my destiny. Amen.

———-

Please note that I also changed the ending. It is important to know Who is the one you are praying to. Saint Christopher cannot do anything – only God can. God can work through people, but we must always remember that they are not the Source of healing – only God is.

Free pass

Many years ago I was in a group of friends who lived in Atlanta. One girl kept making snarky comments to me one day. She would say something rude or condescending about everything I said or did. Either she didn’t usually speak to me or I didn’t notice her comments, but that day I did.

I finally worked up the courage to speak up. I said this to her with our friends present. Bullies have a hard time when there are witnesses. “Are you a bitch all the time, or is today just a special day?” She was silent. I continued. “Because all you have done all day is cut me down and I can’t think of any reason for it. If I’ve done something wrong, let me know.” She never answered, and she has never spoken to me again.

It was very hard for me to do this, but I had to. I was shaking inside, but I knew I had to say something. Verbal abuse is exactly the same as physical abuse, and must be stopped as soon as it is noticed or it will get worse. If you ignore it, you are allowing it to happen.

I once had a coworker who thought it was acceptable to walk up behind me and hit the back of my head several times a day.

I have relatives – blood and in-laws – who think it is acceptable to slander me, steal from me, and lie to me.

I am here to tell you that nobody is ever allowed a free pass to abuse you. Nobody. This includes but is not limited to managers, bosses, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, ministers, and strangers on the street.

Nobody has permission to harm you in any way.

First, let them know how their actions make you feel. They may not realize that they are being a bully. If they sincerely apologize and never do it again, then let it go. If they do it one more time, walk away. You do not need people like this in your life. It does not matter who they are. Nobody gets a free pass at harming you.

You are valuable. You are a child of God. You are unique and precious. If they cannot recognize that, then that is their loss. You cannot make blind people see.

Rumi says in “The Way That Moves as You Move” (rendered by Coleman Barks)
“You have read about the inspired spring. Drink from there. Be companions with those whose lips are wet without water. Others, even though they may be your father or your mother, they are your enemies. Leave, before they kill you.”

Jesus says:
“You assume that I have come to bring peace on earth, and you are mistaken. I have come to set fire to the world, and how I wish it was already burning! I have a mission that I am called to, and it will overwhelm me until I have completed it. I’m not here to join people together but to divide them. Families will turn against each other in their households. I’ve come to bring a sword, cutting old family ties. I’ve come to turn sons against fathers, daughters against mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law. Your worst enemies will be members of your household. Anyone who loves their family more than me cannot be my disciple.” (MT 10:34-37, LK 14:25-26, LK 12:49-53 – Condensed Gospel version)

We must follow the Truth,
regardless of others around us,
regardless of their authority
or connection to us.
If they are harmful to us,
we must walk away and cut all ties.

Only God is above us, not them.

It is better to be lonely than with someone who abuses you.

What is the job of the church?

I find I miss the “church experience” but I can’t stand that so many churches seem to worship Jesus rather than follow him. They’ve turned him into an idol.

I’m not into a “church” that just gets together to hang out. A “church” that is more about socializing than social work isn’t a church. It is a club.

A church needs to do real work in the world – and I don’t mean “evangelizing”. I’m for “bringing Jesus to people” rather than “bringing people to Jesus” – we are to act like he did – healing, helping, loving.

A church needs to have a strong presence in social justice causes.

I don’t want to preach the Gospel. I want to live it out loud.

I want to serve people like Jesus served them.

Jesus healed people by forgiving them, by letting them know that they are loved beyond measure by the very God who created them. He healed them by uniting them – by removing differences and obstacles. Nobody was excluded or deemed “unworthy”.

When did the Good News become the guilt trip? That needs to stop today.

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

Poem – Our daily bread

“Give us our daily bread”
isn’t really about food.
It refers to manna.
Heavenly bread, spiritual sustenance.
Just enough for today,
only one day at a time (Like AA).
It says
“Help me appreciate right now
– no worry about the future.
Help me trust that
You
have that under control.”

When we worry about our future
we are forgetting
the sovereignty
of God.
We are saying that
we
are in charge. We are making idols
of ourselves

God gave us the test
of the manna,
to see if we would gather
just enough
for this day,
to see if we would
walk in his ways
and trust him.

Eternal God, honor us
by giving us this day
our daily bread,
and may we
honor You
by gathering only enough
for today.

Amen.

On not setting up idols of other people and events.

I feel there’s a lot more behind this work transfer than I’m being told. I feel that it’s being done to keep someone else happy. I feel that it is being done to get me out of the way. While I would appreciate honesty, I’m not letting this get to me anymore because I believe that God is in charge of everything.

God uses people, even faithful people, to advance the kingdom. Even to say that the four layers of managers above me are in charge of my future is to give them more power than God. It is to set them up as idols. No, I’m not worshiping them. But to think they are truly in charge fundamentally ignores and negates the fact that God is in charge.

The same is true of a disease or an accident or a disaster. To say it controls your life is to say that it is your god. Yes, you are affected. You are forced to react, to change position and place. But if you truly believe that God is in charge, you know that everything is from God and that it is happening for reason, and that the reason is good because it is from God.

This does not mean that everything will be awesome and wonderful for you. This does not mean that because you are a follower of God that you will have everything go well, you’ll be healed of your sickness, you’ll have the best things. Your will is not the point. God’s will is. You are a player on the stage, a pawn, a puppet. But with God pulling the strings and directing the play, everything will come out exactly as it should.

These lines from Psalm 119 speak to me right now
ט Tet
65 LORD, You have treated Your servant well,
just as You promised.
66 Teach me good judgment and discernment,
for I rely on Your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep Your word.
68 You are good, and You do what is good;
teach me Your statutes.
69 The arrogant have smeared me with lies,
but I obey Your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are hard and insensitive,
but I delight in Your instruction.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I could learn Your statutes.
72 Instruction from Your lips is better for me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.