Well, it's that time of year again. Lights are up on houses, everyone is preparing for parties, excitement is in the air...
No, it isn't the birth of our Savior I'm referring to, it's Halloween!
Halloween is a pretty big deal in my neighborhood. I mean it when I say people put lights up on their houses. A good third of the houses in my neighborhood are decorated for the holiday, complete with skeletons, cackling witches and smoke machines. So, as a Christian, what do we do?
We celebrate, that's what.
I know Christians aren't supposed to celebrate Halloween. Years ago when I was a children's pastor I read up on the subject and those who say we shouldn't do Halloween have some very valid points. So why do we choose to participate in such a blatantly pagan holiday?
The very first command in the Bible is to love God, but the second is like it; love your neighbor. Get your neighbor into Heaven if at all possible - everything else is secondary. Avoiding traditions with shady pasts isn't even in the top ten. And my neighbors love Halloween.
I could make a stand and refuse to participate. I could hand out tracts instead of candy. I could tell people about the devil worshipping roots of the day. But none of those things would win a single one of my friends and neighbors to Christ. In fact I'd probably completely alienate them if I did those things. So we enjoy the parts of the holiday the rest of my neighborhood enjoys. We eat candy, dress up, go on hay rides and jump in the bouncy house at the block party. We get to know our neighbors and they get to know us. We build relationship, and relationship is the key to introducing them to the Jesus I know they'd love if they got to know Him.
Practically speaking, here's what we do for Halloween:
* We do dress up, but we don't allow our kids to be witches, demons, mummies, bloody ax murderers or anything else blatantly evil or scary. This year they are a soldier girl, Darth Vader (ok, maybe he's evil), a princess and a giraffe.
* We do carve a pumpkin (in a happy face) but we don't decorate the house.
* We do our neighborhood block party and our church's party. We don't do haunted houses.
* We don't make a big deal out of it. We don't tell our kids it's evil, although I did have a discussion with my oldest this year about how it got started (she asked). We also don't get our kids hyped up about it, the way we talk about Christmas or Easter. It's got the same 'excitement scale' ranking of a friend's birthday party.
So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hand out candy to the neighborhood kids. For Jesus.