Letters to My Sheep: Halloween Discernment

Monday’s Thought…

A thought on Monday?  Tuesday and Wednesday, sure, but Monday?  Yep, for this week, at least.

I have been thinking a lot about Halloween this year, maybe a little more than usual, for a couple of reasons.  First, with Halloween falling on a Wednesday this year, we had to make a decsion about whether to have our normal Wednesday activities or not (we’re not).  And, Halloween is increasingly becoming big business in our country – with increasing amounts of money on merchandise related to Halloween.  Finally, every year Halloween seems to be a relatively big topic of discussions among Christians  – for and against, if you will.  And increasingly churches are offering alternatives to Halloween: Reformation Festivals, Fall Festivals, or Trunk or Treats (lots of these this year).  My intent here is not to wade into the waters of debate, but instead to dip my toes in the waters of discernment.  To ask some questions and encourage your thoughtfulness, not necessarily a change in your practices.  I am sure in our congregation, we have a diversity of views and levels of participation, and I hope whatever we do is done in a thoughtful way and with a desire to honor Christ. So, here are some thoughts/questions to think about:

  • Are our practices, either to participate or not, a result of what we were raised with (or even against what we were raised with)?  For example, because I was raised in a non-Christian home, we never asked spiritual questions about the holidays.  That makes it easy to just do what I grew up with, but not necessarily with Christian discernment.  The opposite could also be true.
  • If we are participating, how much are we just getting sucked into the materialism and consumerism of the whole thing?  Does our child have to have the best costume (or maybe ourselves)?  Have we bought candy 2 or 3 times already, because we’ve already consumed all of the candy long before October 31st?
  • Speaking of candy…how does this holiday play into our natural proclivities for more and more?  What about gluttony and greed?  I know it’s just candy and I like it as much as any kid, but how much do we really need?  And is there a way to develop generosity and attitude that counters that lust for more?
  • If we are not participating, what is our level of non-participation?  Will we turn off the lights, close the blinds, and allow our homes to be dark, rather than a source of light in the darkness?
  • Are we giving into darkness and evil, allow it a foothold, or otherwise fail to take seriously spiritual realities?
  • What does it mean to love our neighbors?  Does that command have any impact on what we do or don’t do?
  • Along the lines of last Sunday’s sermon, what does it mean to be “in the world, but not of the world” when it comes to Halloween?

These are just a few questions that come to mind.  Regardless of where we fall, I hope that we will be gracious towards brothers & sisters with whom we disagree, desire to honor Christ, and love our neighbors well.

If you wanted to read more/better thoughts, you might try these: Al Mohler (more to the against participation side); a PCA pastor (very much in favor), Tim Challies (somewhere in between?) and one from David Mathis on being missional on Halloween.  These are provided for your discernment.  I may agree or disagree with them in part, but they do provdie good thoughts.

What other questions might we ask?  (Not looking for a debate here)

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for your thoughts- very thought provoking

    Reply

  2. Thanks so much for a well thought out and presented post. You’ve given me much to ponder. 🙂 Many blessings to you!

    Cheryl

    Reply

  3. double like…thank you for sharing 🙂

    Reply

  4. Posted by Amy Dolan on October 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Good thoughts, Adam. We do participate, but try to do it “to the glory of God”. As we have one child who doesn’t tolerate color additives (& same child struggles with cavities), the hard, colored candy collected from all of our kids is donated to our Operation Christmas Child boxes. (They have wised up a bit & go for the chocolate more, but we had a talk about this last year & we expect better!) There are other things we try to do to keep it Christ-centered (because really, EVERY day belongs to the Lord – even October 31st), but I thought I’d mention this one in case anyone else is interested in doing the same!

    Reply

  5. All: I appreciate the comments and encouragement. Thanks.

    Amy: That’s a great idea and one I will share with my congregation. Thanks for that and the reminder that every day belongs to the Lord!

    Reply

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