Loving Our Neighbors: Halloween


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

In America (and elsewhere?), Halloween is coming up. It is often celebrated on October 31st, but many people also celebrate the weekend before. It is one of the few times (at least in my neighborhood) when everyone is out walking the streets, saying hello to one another, and building new friendships. It is exciting to see children from across the neighborhood come to our door hoping to receive a gift.

How do you celebrate Halloween? Is it a holiday you avoid because of its connotations? Is it an opportunity for you to build friendships with neighbors? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


(Diana Molnar) #2

Hi Carson,
Halloween actually came over to Germany from the US. I remember as a little child that we had no such celebration. In the predominantly catholic states in Germany it isn’t even a holiday. Some predominantly Protestant states decided to declare it public holiday in memory of Luther’s reformation. Exceptionally this year, it is a national holiday becasue of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s reformation. However, most people in Germany don’t care. They prefere Halloween and sales are running well, just like for New Year’s Eve or carneval, with costumes etc. Some Evangelical Christians give candy to the children with evanglical literature.
The catholic church has s. th. they call ‘starsingers’ - they go around in angel costumes (around Christmas), ring at peoples doors and collect cash donations for charity projects of the catholic church. In ‘exchange’ so to say, the door frame of the donor is marked cmb to be blessed throughout the year - the initials stand for the names of the ‘three wise men’ that brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Catholic Traditions calls them Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. They assume from the three gifts that it must have been three men.
Then, finally, at Ash Wednesday, children go around and ring door bells to ask for Sweets, just like Halloween, only without costumes. Instead they have to recite a funny rhyme. When they do well, they receive sweets.
So, there’s lots of ‘door ringing’ around Germany between October 31st and Ash Wednesday ;-).
Greetings, Diana.


(Diana Molnar) #3

PS: the ‘starsingers’ are children in angel’s costumes … .


(Aveline Nels) #4

I have an existential crisis every October. I never feel at ease celebrating the holiday, especially as it seems to grow more grotesque with each passing year, but we are trying to use the evening as a time of fellowship with our neighbors. We are going to a neighborhood cul-de-sac cookout. Then, we’re going home to hand out candy to kids who come to our door.


(SeanO) #5

@aveline I agree that halloween can be too grotesque. When I was leading a Singles ministry for a brief time, some of the members wanted to go to a haunted house or a corn maze - I definitely chose the corn maze and explained that we should think on things that are “good, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable”.

When I was in youth ministry it seemed to focus was on providing an alternate space in which the kids could have fun on that night to keep them safe and also to invite their friends. Some people where I’m from actually hand out candy with Bible verses in it - not sure the kids ever read them. But for me the main thing is to walk in purity and clothe ourselves in Christ - avoiding even the appearance of evil while reaching out to others.


(Travis Erickson) #6

This is obviously my least favorite holiday here in the US. Especially that I live in NYC, Halloween is basically a daily scene. Raising our son here too is a little difficult at times.
This is now more directed to children, but we have made skeletons a learning tool for the skeletal system. So whenever he sees bones, we ask him what kind of bones are they.
But there are obviously a lot of things we cannot brush off so he tell him the truth of the matter. (E.g. What a witch is and giving semi examples from a Biblical perspective King Saul and the “Seer” and where in history these topics like were relevant.
I’ll allow my son to dress up, this year is his first year on picking out his own costume and he wants to be a scarecrow. (He knows a scarecrow is a real makeshift farming trick to frighten birds away from corn fields and gardens. And that the scarecrow isn’t attended to scare people) Now that he knows a little about scarecrows, will his mind wonder? Yes, more then likely but he knows the truth and of course we will correct him when he speaks in a way a real scarecrow wouldn’t speak.
Yes, I totally disagree with the celebration but to shun it completely will only kindle a rebellious heart even more. Evil surrounds us, but if we can look that evil in the eye and tell it what it truly is then what stumbling block or hold will it have on us? Darkness cannot even comprehend the light. Shine light on the subject of Halloween and educate ourselves and one another so that we have the words to speak and the respect that follows.
This is the time where I personally witness to more people because there is great wonder in all of the gouls and ghosts and it happens that I have done my research and I am ablr to talk to a group of friends discussing this years costume of choice or to other parents that are not to sure what to do for Halloween.
There is no cookie cutter way to go about this holiday for a Christian. But Jesus said it best, "Go and make disciples…"
God bless.

Acts 20:24


(Jimmy Sellers) #7

What do ya’ll think about using drama as an outreach tool for reaching the lost? I am asking because every Halloween the church that I attend has a three-night nightly presentation of “Death’s Door”. The church member present this using three to four vignettes about “waking up dead” and dealing with the finality of what will happen on that day. The settings do not portray any gory details of violent deaths (blood and guts) but the suddenness of what it might be like to realize that there is a path to Glory and a path to destruction but only that it is too late. I think of what Valiant said to Great-Heart in Pilgrim’s Progress, … “with green-headed Ignorance, I would presume to go on to the gate, from whence he always was sent back to the hole that was in the side of the hill, and made to go the by-way to hell.”
During the drama the characters have dialogue with each other, some of whom are saved and some that are not. The lost use rationale to justify their denial of belief while others lament their lost opportunity to decide for Christ. The saved are ushered into heaven and the lost go to a Devil’s hell complete with demons and the Satan himself as their escorts and tormentors.
The church has done this for years and it has borne fruit as it results in hundreds of people coming to Christ every year. Would be curious to hear from this group as to the pros and cons of this as an evangelical tool.


(David Cieszynski) #8

Our Church (UK) has a light party on Halloween, to celebrate the light that Jesus brings to the world.

It’s good for our children as they witness unknowingly to their school friends.

Just thought I’d let people know what we do as a family.

Kind regards

David


(SeanO) #9

@David_Cieszynski Cool tradition

@Jimmy_Sellers I personally think a play is a good idea. But what you have described is much more Dante’s version of Hell than the Bible’s. The Bible, as I’m sure you already know, uses 4 words that are translated to the English Hell - Sheol, Gehenna, Tartarus and Hades. None of them, once studied, correlate to what that play reenacts. Even if we assume the eternal torment view of Hell, which is not the position that I take, ‘the accuser’ satan is not in charge of judgment. God is judge - satan and his angels will themselves be tormented - not the tormentors - within the eternal torment position. If you wanted to discuss the positions more at length you could start another thread.


(Deborah Emory) #10

I love Halloween time! It’s one of the best opportunities to invite the friends I’ve been praying for to our church. They’re terrified to come, so this time of year is optimal for outreach!


(Jimmy Sellers) #11

@Sean_Oesch:
I do appreciate your reply. I described the setting to give everyone some idea as to what was conveyed in the presentations. I did not intend to make a theological claim but I would add that most Southern Baptists would not see anything strange about a place called “hell” with all the smoke and fire. Interestingly enough though, you might find a few folks who would object to the idea of going to heaven as a type of escape in the tradition of Plato. :slight_smile:


(SeanO) #12

@Jimmy_Sellers They must have been reading N. T. Wright - smart guy. I feel like his calling card is Heaven and Earth uniting (or the historical resurrection). I have plenty of acquaintances who disliked Church because of the fire and brimstone messages and strangely enough one friend who was not converted until he heard a message on judgment (he had grown up with no messages on God’s justice at all). Peter Hitchens actually describes how seeing a painting from the middle ages depicting judgment day had a serious impression on him during his conversion process from socialism to Christianity. I like Steve Gregg’s book on ‘Three Views of Hell’ - presents the three positions and actually does rigorous study of Scripture.


(Sumac Marticorena) #13

Hello.
I have never really celebrated Halloween. But with great sadness I see that some of my cousins make a family celebration, with many sweets, with so much decoration, they invite friends or other families, who come with their costumes.
If I had the opportunity to be in one of those meetings, I would take the opportunity to reflect on how wrong they are. Well, let’s celebrate life instead of death.
The most distressing thing is that the children are left with that habit, maybe something naive.
Greetings and blessings!


(Carson Weitnauer) #14

Hi @Sumac_Marticorena,

I appreciate your heart to celebrate life instead of death. I am wondering what Halloween celebrations in your family look like?

From the description you provided, this sounds like a really nice event! A family celebration with sweets, beautiful decorations, and lots of friends invited sounds like a very positive gathering. It seems like a great place to have a good time, build relationships, ask good questions, and possibly discuss Christ.

So I am wondering if there are specific elements of these celebrations that are worrisome?


(Sumac Marticorena) #15

Hello.
This may seem beautiful, beautiful, pleasant; how we want to see it or how many can see it.
There is no problem with sharing or having good times; The problem is, why do you do it? Who do you do it for? In whose name? what are you celebrating?.
How important it is that as a creation of God, we exist for what we were created. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Well, by not fulfilling the purposes of your creation you are simply in the wrong direction. And that is not good for creation.
This is because all human beings long for happiness and well-being; So if you go the wrong way, you’re wrong.
The Lord Jesus Christ, taught us to discard the vain, when we do prayer for example.
The problem is not in what you do, say or think; but in the purpose or intensionality with which they can be produced.

And as parents, what legacy do we leave for our children? What are we transmitting to our children when we make this kind of celebrations? Is it what we really want for them? Or maybe they take things lightly, unimportant? So we want them to live? Doing things because, in the end, his parents did it?

Blessings!


(Deborah Emory) #16

This is a little off topic, but my friend who I’ve been praying for a long time came to our Halloween party at church last night! She works on weekends but after hanging out she really wants to come back. I sense she’s very hungry for Christ. I’m thankful for anyone who prayed for her here in the past. Use any and every opportunity to connect with people where they are!!


(Natalia Love) #17

WOW… I am sooo late to this discussion! But if you don’t mind me throwing my two cents. As a Bulgarian, I think it is easier for me to answer because this is not a Bulgarian holiday and I didn’t grow up with it. As a Christian, I do not celebrate it. In a nut shell, I think it is a holiday that steals worship away from God, keeps people focused on the cares of the world, and I have hard time picturing Jesus celebrating it - like dressing up like Moses or a cartoon and going down to preach His message? However, I do understand the love-relationship Americans have with this holiday and the need they feel to celebrate it. I think the questions to think about individually if we are to celebrate it is how do we bring glory to God? I had my neighbor coming to my door with her grand kids and they gave us bags of candy on which it was written “Jesus loves you.” I loved that.

I asked members if my prior church who kept insisting that Jesus had redeemed all so we can celebrate it and that we can redeem Halloween for Christ… I asked them: “if we say we are redeeming for Christ, how do you do it…practically, not just on word? When you dress up as a cartoon character how do you worship God and communicate Jesus to your non-believer friends with whom you are celebrating? How do you do it with the kids, how do they bring Jesus up when they do trick-or-treat… do they say “In the name of Jesus” or “God bless” or as families you say prayers before/after?” I received no answers. I see the practical application in what Deborah says that they use the opportunity to invite friends to church.

There was a nice simple article I read some years ago ( I am attaching it here), that put it simply as:

  1. Halloween glorifies evil, not God
    “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” —1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

  2. Halloween is about being spooky and scary and fear
    "It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that the Halloween is all about fear. Scary costumes, haunted houses, and horror movies are designed for no other purpose than to frighten us. Seeking out opportunities to be scared is, on this day at least, the highest form of entertainment. If we do not have a spirit of fear, should we even acknowledge a day whose purpose is to invoke a spirit of fear in us?"

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind.” —2 Timothy 1:7

  1. If the seed is bad, the fruit will be bad.
    “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer [pharmakeia], or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.” —Deuteronomy 18:9-11

  2. Don’t dine with demons
    “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” —1 Corinthians 10:21

But God says, “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? … And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” —2 Corinthians 6:14-16

  1. Halloween is an excuse to flaunt sexuality
    “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” —Ephesians 5:11-12

  2. We play how we practice
    "Do we really have any right to be shocked or even surprised when some among us decide to act out in real life the fascination with evil we insist on holding dear? We can’t have it both ways: if we choose to be entertained by evil, we should be prepared for the time when it becomes reality."

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this work, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” —Ephesians 6:12

“Let us not drop our guard for a moment, or even camp out one night a year “for fun” on the side of the enemy.”

  1. ARE WE CAUSING OTHERS TO STUMBLE?

  2. Be faithful in the small things.

“He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.” —Luke 16:100:

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” —James 1:27

  1. God wants to bless us — but not in the way the world blesses.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile…’” —Jeremiah 10:2

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” —Psalm 37:3-4

  1. Come out from them and be separate

“Therefore come out from them and be separate from them, says the Lord.” —2 Corinthians 6:17

“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 once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” —Ephesians 5:6-10

I am attaching the full article in PDF if anyone wants to download it.

Why I kissed Halloween goodbye.pdf (466.5 KB)


(Carson Weitnauer) #18

Hi Natalia, this a very interesting set of observations. I appreciate you sharing them.

I do wonder if part of the discussion here is not just what the Bible says but also how our cultures interact with one another? It seems to me that the same word, “Halloween”, can mean very different things in different cultures. Also, how it is celebrated could be quite different from one family to the next. These different experiences would lead us to different conclusions even if we share the same kind of reasoning process.

For instance, in my neighborhood, I cannot see any demonic activity in what is going on. We have pizza, people paint pumpkins, there’s a pick-up basketball game the teenagers get into. Some people wear costumes - they are mainly really cute and fun. Neighbors get to know one another and build friendships. The kids gain confidence to go to their neighbors’ homes and receive a gift of candy for walking around and saying hello. All around, it is a positive social activity that connects people to one another.

At the same time, on the door of one of my neighbors was taped a sign, “You’re invited to the Hugh Hefner Halloween Party!” Clearly, that activity was of a completely different spirit than the public festivities in the neighborhood. I wouldn’t participate in that one. But going to this neighbor’s house gave me new understanding of what they value and I know how to better pray for them.


(Martin Pitts) #20

I grew up celebrating Halloween the traditional American way, candy, costumes, and doorbell ringing. However, now that I think on it, my parents never let me dress up in anything gory. I wasn’t raised in a Christian household, but my parents still held on to wholesome values. As others have said, it is an increasingly evil world. We are meant to be in the world, but not of the world. For me this means we come alongside the world, and do as others here have described which is to shine the light of Jesus on a normally dark holiday. My daughter has asked to dress up every year, and so far she’s done a good job on picking out her own costumes. They’ve all been similar to what Carson mentioned, being cute and fun. I still take her to a few houses, but when we receive candy we also hand out a gospel tract. Also, our church does a community gathering called a Trunk-or-Treat where our members dress up and decorate their vehicles. We pass out candy, have food and drinks, and some games for the kids to come and play for the evening, and devote time at the beginning to give a presentation of the gospel. So even though we don’t celebrate the horror side of it, we do still use the time to gather with the community.