This week it was Halloween, a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve which itself proceeds All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day, an annual Christian celebration dating back to the first millennia when loved ones who have died in the faith are remembered and comfort is drawn by those who remain from recognising that, because of the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, death holds no fear for those who believe the Christian gospel and put their trust in Jesus Christ.
Over time this solemn remembrance of the dearly departed extended to include the night before and children would dress up as ghosts and such like in order to take part in a ‘Dance macabre’ to celebrate the victory Christ won over the forces of darkness. Far then from celebrating evil, the original point of Halloween was, for some at least, to poke a little fun at death in much the same way that the apostle Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:55 when he taunts that last great enemy with the words ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’.
And this is why I am not as negative about Halloween as some of my Christian friends. Admittedly, whether it is by wandering the streets dressed as zombies or by attending parties in the guise of vampires, most people who mark Halloween these days do so without giving any thought to Jesus’ wonderful victory over death. But just because it has been so commercialised that it is now the third highest grossing festival of the year, that doesn’t mean that Christians should have nothing to do with Halloween. Far from it! For if that were the case, then surely Christians should also refrain from celebrating those other great Christian festivals which have been similarly secularised and today are enjoyed by many who do not find time to reflect on the glorious fact that ‘the word became flesh’ at Christmas and, having been crucified on Good Friday, rose to life again on Easter Day.
Of course, just as Christmas can become all about acquiring everything on your Amazon wish list and Easter nothing more than an opportunity to eat too many chocolate eggs, not everything about Halloween is to be commended. The intimidation of vulnerable people by those who go trick or treating in such a way that forces some to switch off all the lights in their house and pretend they’re not at home is totally unacceptable but it is nonetheless true that done in the right spirit, and whilst remembering what Halloween is really all about, trick and treating can actually bring communities together.
Furthermore, just as fairy tales serve the very useful function of allowing children to face up to the darker aspects of their lives and, through those stories, see that the things they are frightened of can be overcome, so too some appropriate recognition of the existence of evil can help children see that, with Jesus a reality in their lives, they have nothing to fear. Pretending that evil does not exist does not help our children. Rather then than being concerned about how Halloween may adversely affect our children, perhaps we should be more concerned about the very real harm Disney films can do them with their insistence that everyone is awesome and their dishonest assurances that we can all be whatever we want to be whilst minimising the very real existence of pain and disappointment.
So, whilst I understand why some Christians are uneasy about Halloween, concerned as they are that it may encourage an unhealthy interest in occult practices such as endeavouring to communicate with the dead, something which, incidentally, the Bible expressly forbids, for me Halloween is an opportunity to talk about Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, a death that paid the penalty for all our sin, and assures us that when we die, rather than it being the end, it will be but a gateway to eternal life with God, a never ending existence in a new heaven and a new earth where our loving Heavenly Father will wipe away our every tear and ensure that death and evil will no longer have any place in our lives.
And so until then I will, on occasions, enjoy poking a little fun at death whilst never forgetting that my confidence for so doing comes only from knowing that ‘He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world’ [1 John 4:4].
And likewise I will not be afraid to die confident as I am that at the cross Satan was so completely defeated that we can all be absolutely sure that ‘Death [really has been] swallowed up in victory’ [1 Corinthians 15:54].
And with that in mind I hope you all had a very happy Halloween!
For anyone interested here’s how I enjoyed myself last Monday evening…we’ll it amused me!
Related spooky posts:
To read ‘Dr Jonathan Harker and the post evening surgery home visit’, click here
To read ‘Scooby Doo and the Deserted Medical Centre’, click here
To read ‘Scooby Doo and the Mystery of the Deserted Cricket Ground’, click here
To read ‘Monsters’, click here
And finally a selection of other Christian posts
To read ‘Everything’s Alright’, click here
To read ‘Order out of chaos’, click here
To read “Hope comes from believing the promises of God”, click here
To read, ‘But this I know’, click here
To read “Suffering- A Personal View”, click here.
To read “Why do bad things happen to good people – a tentative suggestion”, click here
To read “Luther and the global pandemic – on becoming a theologian of the cross”, click here
To read ‘Covid -19. Does it suggest we really did have the experience but miss the meaning?’, click here. This is a slightly adapted version of “T.S. Eliot, Jesus and the Paradox of the Christian Life’.
To read ‘The “Already” and the “Not Yet”’, click here
To read ‘The Sacrifice of Isaac – Law or Gospel?’, click here
To read ‘on being confronted by the law’, click here
To read ‘Good Friday 2022’, click here
To read “Easter Sunday – 2021”, click here
To read, ‘The Resurrection – is it Rhubarb?’, click here
To read “Waiting patiently for the Lord”, click here
To read, ‘Real Love?’, click here
To read ‘Real Power’, click here