Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Once Per Year, Perchance?

(originally published here in 2003, my very first year of blogging...)

John Fischer writes in Fearless Faith (Living Beyond the Safe Walls of Christianity):
"The more acceptable Christian thing to do now on Halloween is to close up the house and have an alternative party for our kids at church. The party usually has a harvest or biblical character theme -- no ghosts or goblins allowed. Though I understand how this safer alternative came to be, I wonder whether a blanket boycott is the only way to handle this controversial holiday. Is this just one more time when we as Christians isolate ourselves from the rest of our culture for religious reasons apparent only to us? Have we really thought through what our dark houses are saying to the rest of the block while we're off having our alternative party? I can hear the neighbourhood kids shuffling by our house, saying, "Don't go there, they don't give anything." Is this what we want to be known for in the community -- a dark house on the one night you can be guaranteed neighbors will visit?

"If Satan comes out on Halloween, he doesn't go back into hiding the next morning. Regardless of the origins of Halloween (and there appears to be little agreement about this, even among historians), what we have today is a culture-wide event that is more concerned with pretending than it is with the underworld... If Satan wins anything on this day, he may win more through the darkened homes of Christians than through anything else."
When we were pastoring in Victoria BC, Christians didn't do anything to celebrate Halloween -- there were lots of "Harvest Parties" in various church buildings instead. Of course, the police were guarding the Ross Bay Cemetary so no bodies would be stolen that night, nor to forget the animal sacrifice that was done on our front yard in the hey-day of GodRock, or a local shaman dressing up in his ceremonial garb to personally curse me -- you can understand why particpating in Halloween wasn't even a debatable question in Christian circles in Victoria during the 1990's.

Now that we're in Winnipeg, we take our kids out trick-or-treating every year, for the same reasons that John Fischer illustrates above. It's like being part of the community here to join in the fun. We don't let our kids dress up in death-inspired outfits (our son went as a box of Cheerios one year, and our daughter once went as a potted plant -- WAY more creative than a Freddie Kreuger mask!). But we go with them and mingle with our community. I even (unknowing at the time) had a joking conversation with the premier of Manitoba -- I didn't recognize him in a yellow rain slicker.

Even more fun are our Anglican neighbours across the street -- every year, they have hot chocolate, coffee, tea, and penny candy for everyone who stops by their outdoor bonfire. They play jazz or blues music on a ghetto blaster, and it becomes the gathering place for tons of people -- and the many Christians who live on our street have a great opportunity to mix and mingle with our non-Christian neighbours and give a cup of hot chocolate in Jesus' name. It rocks!

Two different approaches to Halloween. Definite reasons behind each. Whether you choose to participate or not, at least think through what you're communicating to the community you're trying to impact for Jesus.

And you can always give me your candy!

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