Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thoughts on Halloween

I remember watching a debate happen amongst friends at a church event years ago. Of all the things that could have been debated, the topic at hand was Halloween. Some parents were "pro-Halloween" and others were "anti-Halloween". It was an interesting conversation indeed, and one that I couldn't speak to, because I didn't have children of my own. Who was I to have much of an opinion about what parents should or shouldn't do with their kids when it comes to Halloween?

Not long after that event, and e-mail was sent out to the old MYAM group from one of the leaders. Even though the article featured in that e-mail was not geared towards me (after all, I had no kids), I saved it, because I just knew that people would have strong opinions one way or another on being a Christian and allowing my children to Trick or Treat on Halloween.

I'd forgotten about that article until five minutes ago, when I was reading the blog of our pastor's wife, Kelly. Apparently someone has said to her that she "shouldn't let her children trick or treat" or some such thing. It dawned on me that I'd read an article, written from a Christian perspective, that allowing children to celebrate Halloween can be a good thing. I forwarded the article to her, and I'll share it here too.

Trick-or-Treating with Purpose

Kim Wier, Contributing Writer

You may think it is impossible for God to redeem Halloween in its present state, but that is all the better, for when He accomplishes it -- He alone will receive the glory. We have discovered that in the case of Halloween, the truth really can set you free -- free to celebrate the power and goodness of God as you do so in the spirit of remembrance for which it was first established

One simple but meaningful way to begin redeeming the season is to embrace the fun of trick-or-treating by changing the focus. The early faith heroes died because they wanted others to have the opportunity to hear the life-giving message that Jesus is the Son of God. Begin planting seeds of eagerness to share the gospel in the hearts of your children through the fun of going door to door.

First, help them think of different kinds of people who need to hear about Jesus. Let them dress up like one of those groups of people. Children are so creative. They may dress like a sea creature as they remember how sailors need Jesus. It could be a ninja as they consider those on the Asian continent. Football players, cowboys and policemen need to hear the good news. Depending on your child's age, you can make this a more significant event.

* Talk about how people who have not accepted Jesus have been "tricked" into believing they don't need Him, but that God wants them to receive the greatest "treat," salvation through Jesus and eternal life in heaven.

* Make a list of some specific ways that your children could pray for that group of people to be prepared to hear the gospel. Include asking God to send workers into that harvest field.

* Each night for a week before or after Halloween, pray with your children for those people.

* Look together at Jesus' commission given to us in Matthew 28:18-20. Explain to your children that we should go and make disciples everywhere in the world. Take some time to talk about how each of us can obey that command right now and in the future.

* On the night of Halloween, as you prepare to send your children out to trick-or-treat, be sure to go over safety rules and accompany them from house to house.

* It is always a good idea to remind them to say thank you at each place you visit. Have a great time enjoying a fun experience with your children that will result in spiritual training as well.

* After you arrive home and admire the abundance of candy, finish the night with a Scripture verse that promises sweet rewards for those who do God's work on earth. "It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing [good things] when he returns" (Luke 12:43). And, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:15).

* Help your children see that while trick-or-treating can be a fun time one night a year, following God and sharing the good news of Jesus is an adventure that lasts a whole lifetime.

* Finish your trick-or-treat night with prayer as you tuck them into bed. Thank God that someone told you about Jesus, and ask Him to use your family to do the same for others.

God has not given us a spirit of fear. He has given us a sound mind and the gift of love. Halloween, originally a church holiday, should not have Christians running scared. Instead, we can celebrate without selling out when we "remember those who have gone before us" and follow in their footsteps.

This article was adapted from "Redeeming Halloween: Celebrating without Selling Out" (Focus on the Family and Tyndale House). Copyright 2004 by Kim Wier and Pam McCune.

In case you haven't figured it out, we're allowing our children to Trick or Treat. After all, who wants to buy all that candy when our kids can get it by knocking on our neighbor's doors? :-)

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