It seems that anything and everything we can argue over or divide over... well, we do. Whether it is the political tension that seems to be growing and growing the closer we approach November 8th, the changes in the economy, the conflicts in the Middle East, whether we should allow power companies to monopolize solar energy (Yes, I'm looking at you Florida!), heck, we are even arguing over which service provider is best for our cell phones at an all time high. Sprint, Verizon... Can you hear ME now?
Perhaps for me to point a spotlight at the newest elephant in the room that seems to slide in every October, I would just be giving us another reason to argue... but alas, I'm going to do it anyway.
I have heard every side to this on how a Christian should respond to this day.
I get it.
Once again we are thrust into this tension of Christian liberty vs Holiness.
We are sucked into the debate about what living in the world vs. being of the world looks like.
We are tossed to-and-fro between the rocking ship of active engagement vs passive protest.
I also understand that for many families, it is a matter of conscience. You don't feel comfortable celebrating a holiday that seems to worship the darkest things of our world... and the Spirit world.
Today -- it's not unusual to see a kid walking down the street with a knife in his head, fake blood all over his costume. You are bound to see a kid dressed as a ghost, fortune tellers, zombies, even the Grim Reaper.
So what should we, as Christians do in response?
Again, I understand the conscience argument and I in no way want to infringe on what you honestly believe God would have you do... but before you make that decision I hope you will come to understand how this holiday came about. From there, I hope we can all come to respect whatever decisions we come to make on this day.
You may be surprised to find out that Halloween was actually begun as a Christian festival.
Over the centuries, Halloween has not been about glorifying death. It's been more about respectfully remembering the dead and honoring that life is "hallowed" -- holy.
Before there was "Halloween", there was "All Hallows' Eve" -- and All Saints Day. For hundreds of years, before jack-o-lanterns and zombies and candy corn, Christians around the world have remembered the dead, the saints, the cloud of witnesses that have gone before us.
Halloween comes from the same root word as "hallowed" or "halo", meaning holy.
It was a time for families and churches to remember those who had passed into eternity that year... many of which because of martyrdom for the faith.
It was a celebration of thanksgiving. Long before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, there was All Hallows Eve. We gave thanks for the harvest and we gave thanks to God for the people He had put into our lives.
Halloween was made to honor people.
The church is in the redeeming business. We are in the redeeming business, because our leader, our King, our husband... Jesus Christ is in the redeeming business. We have always been an agent for change and an agent for good in our world. I don't think that stops because the world has taken hold of one of OUR holidays and made it about gore and demons.
My Jesus can redeem anything. My Jesus wins. My Jesus is sacking and depleting the Kingdom of Satan... and He will not relent until ALL is His again.
Personally, I think that includes All Hallows Eve.
"God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does." -Martin Luther
Church, tonight your neighbors, those people who live mere feet from you, they with all their baggage, all their own joys, all their own hardships, their love of life, as well as their loneliness will traipse up to your door with their little princesses and power rangers and they will ring your doorbell.
Those people who have life, life given to them by the God we serve, the God who loves them. Those people who we never speak to, who are nameless to us, those people who we are called to love... They will come to you.
If you're up for it... Go get some candy. Turn your light on. Have a conversation. You don't have to celebrate. You aren't condoning devil worship. You are actively loving your neighbor.
Love the people right around you. Right. Where. You. Live.
So, because I am in the redeeming business, and because I personally LOVE All Hallows Eve... I have some pretty fantastic stuff planned for tonight -- a place stunningly decorated with spooky fixtures. For my neighborhood kids, I'm firing up a grill in the middle of my driveway tonight and making S'mores and we'll be handing out gobs and gobs of candy.
But rather than revering the heroes of horror like Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers, it is a time we can celebrate the people we have admired, lost loved ones and the saints of old. So as we bob for apples, carve pumpkins, and eat lots of candy over the next few days… we'll also go deeper -- let's reclaim the holiday as a holy day.
Around here -- we don't need more gore and blood, and fear is enough of a national obsession. But there is something sweet about the way Halloween gives us permission to laugh at death, and stare fear in the face... after all, we know the dead can rise again.
Oh death, Thou art dead.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our boundaries.
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