It is a question that sparks great debate among Christians in the United States. Should a Christian celebrate Halloween? The Bible does not spell it out for us in specifics. So like many areas of our lives good people differ in their opinions.
Some argue that it is a chance to be salt and light to neighbors who come knocking on your door one day a year. Some argue that we should have nothing to do with a night that is focused on darkness, on paganism, the occult, etc.
This year I have come to the conclusion that I am a mess when it comes to Halloween. Many years ago I felt convicted to not have anything to do with it. It cost us financially as we had grown hundreds of pumpkins on our 5 acres and were the pumpkin patch for school field trips. My convictions cost us a little income. I still feel much the same way. I have struggled with the idea of churches that host "Harvest Festivals" which masquerade as just another Halloween celebration. I have struggled with the idea of handing out tracts instead of candy. Mainly because I have never been one who even likes the idea of handing out tracts instead of sharing the Gospel message myself, but also because I see it as "bad press." What little kid is going to be excited that you gave them a tract instead of chocolate? How many of those tracts actually get read rather than thrown in the trash? So instead of trying to blur lines I just removed myself from the whole thing. And I have been happy with that.
This year I have been posting photos of some amazing pumkin carvings on my websites facebook page-works of art they are, but they blur my line drawn in the sand. This year I surprised my youngest with a sonic screwdriver to complete his costume as the 11th Doctor. Am I giving in to the world around me? Am I still in the world but not of it?
How does this all fit into my conviction that I need to be removed from all the Halloween festivities? Is it okay as long as I stay away from the scary stuff?
Why has this become such a polarizing day? One must choose a side, for or against, and you better have Bible verses to back it all up. Verses we hurl at one another like mighty stones. Is that any way for Christians to behave? That has become the bigger question for me I guess. I do not want to be a fence sitter-neither hot nor cold, but is Halloween where I make my stand? And if so, what kind of stand do I make?
I do not begrudge my friends who celebrate the day with their children and grandchildren. I do not think it is the end of a church's spiritual life to have a harvest festival- to provide a safe and fun place for children who love to dress up and collect their candy treats. I honestly believe that this is an area where Christians in good conscience can truly disagree. I am not more spiritual for not taking part. What a disgrace it would be it I were more "puffed-up" thinking I was a better Christian than you. (Sounds a bit like what the pharisees were guilty of.)
I often sign my name with the closing, Grace, Peace, and Mercy. That is what I want my life to exemplify. Can I extend grace to others who hold to different beliefs about this day? Can I promote peace instead of discord? Will I be merciful to those who disagree?
Just reading some of the blog posts around the internet this week one would get the impression we are at war with one another in the church. Goodness-how can we be so hostile to one another? Maybe we all need to take a step back and re-evaulate. Halloween is not a make it or break it doctrine. Don't get me wrong here, as Christians we can have nothing to do with witchcraft and the like. I guess where I am at is that we need to cut each other some slack. There is a passage in 1 Thessalonions that comes to mind; partly because I have heard it bantered about as the reason we should not participate in anything halloweeny. Have you heard that we should avoid anything having the appearance of evil? It comes from this passage in Scripture, but I do not think that is the best translation of the verse in question. (One of the few times I think the King James got it wrong. Bear in mind I am no biblical scholar, so I could be wrong-be a Berean and check these things out for yourself- and if you disagree then please come in love and share your thoughts.) Here is the passage from the NASB:
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, emphasis mine)
Did you catch those directives?
- I included the beginning of the passage partly for the flow and partly because I know some pastors who have recently come under attack from congregants because of this issue. Appreciate the man who leads your local church and esteem him highly-in love.
- Live at peace with one another. Can it be any clearer? Neither side is preaching another Gospel; perhaps we all need a chill-pill.
-Admonish the unruly. Now I think there are some that may need this-I cannot see any good in offering "christian" versions of a house of horrors as some churches do. But to admonish is not to attack and defame.
-Be patient with everyone. even those who in good conscience disagree with you.
-Always seek after that which is good...FOR ALL PEOPLE. That is why I have stopped to consider Halloween in the first place-my desire to seek after that which is good, for myself and for others.
-Examine everything carefully. Search the Scriptures and be willing to let go of even the dearest traditions. We have to be followers of God not followers of men. I am still searching.
-Hold fast to that which is good. When we know the good we should do we need to do it.
-Abstain from every form of evil. Not the appearance of evil, but the practice of evil. We can fall into all sorts of legalistic traps if we are more concerned about appearance than action. Paul was calling on the Thessalonians to behave a certain way, to be a people set apart from the world by living righteous lives. It was not a call to avoid anything that might be misconstrued as evil. Did you know that early Christians were believed to be cannibals. The outside world misunderstood what was meant by "This is my body, take and eat." It had the appearance of evil to them, but we know it is a reverant celebration of Christ's death and resurrection whenever we "break bread" together. It is not appearnces that Paul is concerned with, but actions that flow from the heart.
So where does all this leave me? I appear a confused mess about Halloween- enjoying and supporting some aspects while questioning whether I should. If my conscience leads me to be removed from it all together how then can I post those pumpkin photos? How then can I enjoy my kiddos costumes? I guess because I am not going to be legalistic about it. I see good arguments on both sides. Whatever we choose to do with this day we need to show that there is a Light that has overcome the darkness. This day is not different from any other in that respect, but perhaps provides us with some unique opportunities to share that message... no matter how we choose to handle it personally.
Okay, it is Tuesday and not Friday. Sometimes life happens apart from our best laid plans. I caught a cold the first day of fall break-so following my own advice to call it a "Plot Twist" I made some tasty chicken noodle soup and have been laying low. The cold is not that bad, but I do feel tired most of the time.
This is an especially busy time at work-most of the time I have some free time to use, but right now we are in the midst of both our international campaigns involving 32 schools around the world and our Pan-Starrs campaign which means I am processing close to a hundred reports a day from another batch of students around the world. Our students send in reports with their observations and I check to see if they have made any new discoveries of asteroids against our database and then enter information into reports that are submitted to the Minor Planet Center. I had not realized how much on count on my free times at work to do my writing. When I come home in the evenings on work days I am finding it hard to want to do much of anything that involoves thought.
Today I am finding it hard not to be distracted from the zillion little things in my inbox that I had not gotten to. Fun to do, but not very productive.
One of the neat things I chased down was some new functionality for the website. All of the Bible verse citations will now pop up with that verse to read if you hover your mouse over it. Like this: Psalm 119:1-2. As an added feature you can also find "Bible Options" on the sidebar of my Sitting At His Feet page. Here you can choose which version of the Bible you want to see displayed. There are several options avaiable and I like that you have these translations at your fingertips as it can be helpful to read a verse in more than one translation to gain insight into it. You can even save your preference so that your preferred version is used whenever you visit my site. How cool is that!
New on the site:
Some of my favorites around the web this week seem to have a theme.
How to Be Better Bereans- Kevin DeYoung has writtten a great series on what it means to be a Berean in the church today. (Acts 17:10-11)
How to Be Better Bereans -Part 2
How to Be Better Bereans -Part 3
Past or John Piper - The Bible isn't Boring...
Halloween or the Lord's Day-I think this is an area where Cristians in good conscience can disagree. Michael Ives has written a thought provoking piece here and I like particularly like this thought: "For a Christian, everything is fair game for re-examination under the Word of God. I fear that too often, we are looking for tailor-made arguments to suit our conclusions. We must not trust, but ever examine ourselves and let the light of God’s Word shine on even our most cherished practices."
Now this one has nothing to do with the theme of the others. Ken Davis has long been one of my favorite comedians. Enjoy.
I am a wife, a mother, a quilter, and most of all a follower of Jesus Christ.
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