Wondering how to get the Halloween conversation going with your members? Take your cues from this article, which is modified from a handout by the Rev. Tim Frear of Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Let’s face it: Halloween is a mixed bag.
I’d like to share a few thoughts with you about Halloween and how you might think about it, whether you come to our celebration or not.
First of all, I’d like to affirm that at this time of year we can celebrate the Christians who have lived through Christ alone, grace alone, and faith alone.
I personally have mixed feelings about Halloween. Word has it that October 31st was the new year’s ever for ancient Celts and Druids in the British Isles who believed this was the most active night in the spirit world.
And, apparently, many of the symbols — jack-o-lanterns, skulls, death imagery, spirits, wearing of costumes (to trick the roaming spirits and avoid death) — are rooted in this fear-based response to a world in which people are subject to capricious powers of the gods and other beings.
On the other hand, the name Halloween comes from the Christian holiday All Saints Day, falling on Nov. 1. This was a day set aside to remember and celebrate the lives and faith of those who have died a martyr’s death because of their devotion to Christ.
All Saints Day used to be called “All Hallowed Day” (because a “saint” is a “hallowed” — a set-apart, made holy consecrated person). The day before All Hallows Day would be All Hallows Eve or Halloween. But, like Mardi Gras before Ash Wednesday, Halloween took on a non-Christian image and activities — partly as a reaction, partly as residue of the surrounding non-Christian culture.
Somewhere along the way, Protestant Christians, in protest against the perceived glorification of martyred believers decided to refocus All Saints Day, highlighting the core of the Christian faith which is Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone. That is, Christ is the sole mediator between God and people, we are saved only by God’s free gift of grace, and salvation comes by faith, not by our own efforts or merits. We all have the same free access to Christ, not only those who are labeled “saints.”
O.K., so, what to do?
I ran around in costumes and collected gobs of candy on Oct. 31 throughout my childhood, oblivious to both the occult images and symbols, as well as to the Christian celebration the next day. I turned out somewhat healthy — didn’t I?
Having said that, there’s a fascination with, and an embracing of, the occult in our time and in our culture that was only beginning 30 years ago when I was ringing doorbells. It’s different today.
We need to educate our kids about Halloween activities and imagery. We need to tell them about the day after, about Christ who died and rose again –more powerful than any spirit or evil challenger. And we need to tell them about Christians who have given their lives in the face of persecution — people who lived by Christ alone, grace alone and faith alone.
If you choose to let your kids dress up and ring doorbells, monitor their activities and costumes. Bible characters are good choices for costumes as opposed to, say, a vampire.
We have another alternative our WestPres Harvest Festival: We’ll be using it as an occasion to teach, while letting kids be kids. Lots more information is in the bulletin about it, but I wanted to give you a little bit of background as to why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Finally, for our kids, we want to establish boundaries, guide their participation with others, and, above all, communicate that Jesus is Lord and that our church is neither afraid, nor incapable, of having fun with the neighbors. Reclaim the day with a smile!
For free articles on how to best share various holidays with your members, visit the Ministry Communications Resources website.
Reprinted with permission from Communications & Marketing Writer and Speaker Yvon Prehn and www.ministrycom.com.