October 31

October 31, 2006

I absolutely love the fall. I love the changing of the leaves, the crisp, cool air, (“jacket weather” as my mom likes to call it), apple cider…you get the idea. I think October would be my favorite month of the year if it wasn’t for all the Halloween decorations everywhere on everything! I guess it is at least good practice in “being in the world and not of it”!

Several years ago, a friend gave our family a little pamphlet about the origins of Halloween. I don’t remember alot of the details of the history of the familiar traditions and I can’t spout off facts about the pagan rituals of the past or present. Frankly, there are many things much more worthy of my study time than that but I think we have plenty of information already to make a decision that is pleasing to the Lord.

I actually started this post several days ago, when I was pondering again the dilemma that so many Christians face in trying to decide what is the “right” thing to do. Many of us participated in Halloween activities of various kinds during our own childhoods and it is hard to feel that we are “depriving” our kids of the fun but I think as Christians, we should realize that it is not about us or our kids and what we or they think is fun. It is about God and what honors Him.

I recently saw a link on a Christian website entitled “Why I Let My Kids Trick or Treat”. My curiosity got the best of me and I read it, wanting to know the author’s justification. I saw many inconsistencies and failings in her thought patterns but the bottom line is that she and her husband eventually let their kids go trick-or-treating because “they’re only children!” Exactly. It’s just a matter of remembering whose children. My children belong to God. He has given them to Michael and me to love and teach and discipline and even though we are far from being perfect parents, we are accountable to God for what we teach them, even about Halloween. We have not celebrated Halloween since we had kids and even though at times I see a flicker of curiosity in their eyes about what it would be like to dress up and go around getting candy from strangers, we use it as a time to teach them what it means to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever”, at least in the flawed way we can. We have had many conversations with our kids about this subject and I think they have a decent, childlike “apologetic” about why we don’t acknowledge this day of wickedness. I think they truly desire to please Him in this.

The other day in our school, we discussed these verses. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:6-10 We talked about how the decorations we see are dark and remind us of death but in Christ, we are children of light! (“they’re only children!”) We are told here not to be partakers with the sons of disobedience. We should be exceedingly grateful that because of Christ, that no longer describes us! We should not be looking for the line so we can step right up to it.

The other passage was Colossians 1:10-14. “…so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Lots of good vocabulary words in there! I asked them if it made sense for Christians, even for one day, to look like the people who have NOT been delivered from the domain of darkness. Does a rescued prisoner of war want to go back to the place where he was held for a party one day a year? When we are transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son, we should not look back.

You might say that these are compelling arguments to not celebrate Halloween in the traditional way that most worldly pagans do but you still might think it’s harmless to dress up and have fun as long as your costumes are not witches and skeletons. Alot of churches have “alternatives ” to Halloween but in my opinion, these “fall parties” are nothing more or less than a Halloween party minus a few ghosts and goblins. The real question comes back to “why do we WANT to try to figure out how we can participate in this day without displeasing God too much?” Another verse came to mind when I was thinking about this the other day. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Phil. 3:20) An analogy came to mind right after this verse. Maybe it will be helpful for you, whether for yourself or for explaining your view more clearly to others.

When we lived in Germany, sometimes I would ask Michael to go to the bank on the post while he was there during the day. He would come home and I would ask if he had been able to take care of our banking business. Sometimes he would say no, he wasn’t able to do it because the bank was closed for a German holiday. This frustrated me. It didn’t seem right that we, American citizens, should be kept from taking care of banking business on an American military installation, because it was a holiday for the Germans (who worked at the bank). It was a minor irritation then, because I was residing in their country and had to deal with it at least to that extent. Now, it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest what days are German holidays and what days aren’t. Why? Because I am not a German citizen and I am no longer living in Germany. You can see where I am going with this. If we are citizens of heaven, residents of the kingdom of His beloved Son, should we care at all about a day that is set aside on the calendar for pagans to worship death and darkness? Yes, we are still living, temporarily, in this world and therefore must put up with it to the extent that we have to see the horrible decorations as we drive down our streets and shop in our grocery stores, but do you think our fellow citizens of heaven who have gone home ahead of us are thinking about what costume to wear tomorrow? I think it much more likely that most would be gathered around Martin Luther for another telling of the story of what he was doing on October 31, 1517.

Just to clarify, I think Reformation Day is something that should be celebrated but I think it should be done in such a way that it is clear that we are not imitating the world’s activities. If I had it my way, churches would be open for families to come and eat soup or chili and fellowship, maybe sing songs and have someone remind us of why this day should be important to us as Christians. This serves the double purpose of being with our fellow citizens to mark an important day in church history as well as getting us out of the house and away from the doorbell! Just a thought.

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2 Responses to “October 31”

  1. heidihttp://guinan.blogspot.com said

    Tara, I have never heard it put that way. I have been struggling in my head lately (b/c I am fastly approaching that look of curisoity in my child(ren)s eyes. Your perspective on it being a matter of “not looking back” and being about bigger matters while on earth is very helpful with my struggle. Your viewpoint sounds very non-judgmental, but just wanting to have the very BEST of what God has for us…even while we are “in” this world, and cannot help but be surrounded by the traditions and rituals of those who are not children of the King. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly!

  2. jana said

    Good post! Thank you for putting your thoughts in words—very uplifting and encouraging way to think about this stuff.

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