It’s Halloween time. One of my most favorite times of the year. Yet in Christian circles this happens to be one of the most controversial days. Should Christians celebrate Halloween? Are you worshiping the devil when you do so?
I grew up in a divorced household. The big holidays, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, were all spent rushing back and forth from one house to another to ensure that both parents got time with us kids. But Halloween, it was different. There was no rushing here and there. It was just about that night. Having fun without any drama or who would be where. And because of that, it quickly became my most favorite holiday. Not because I follow Satan or worship evil spirits. Goodness no! For me as a young kid, and even now as an adult, it’s just FUN! It’s fun to dress up. It’s fun to eat candy and drink hot cocoa. It’s fun to watch Charlie Brown. It’s fun to decorate pumpkins. And guess what, other people, they think it’s fun too!
Which is why I’ve always struggled with the idea that Christians can’t celebrate Halloween. We can’t have fun because other people view the holiday as something evil? That’s like saying we shouldn’t use the internet because there are bad things out there. Or that we can’t eat ice cream because it’s caused others to make unhealthy food choices. That’s crazy.
Jesus was clear, over and over in the scriptures, we are called to love our neighbor. How do we do that then, when we live in a time where we drive into a garages and promptly shut the door? Most of us don’t even know – or bother to get to know – our neighbors. Never mind make an effort to love on them. And yet, when we have an opportunity, where neighbors come together, regardless of age, race, faith, socioeconomic status, etc, to have some fun, we hide. We publicly call out Christians who do participate and shame them for celebrating an “evil” holiday. But what if instead we embraced the blessing that is this unique day and live out Jesus’ calling for us – to love our neighbors?
Does that mean we hand out tracts and hold up crosses? Nah! Let me break it down for you in 5 easy steps.
- DON’T BE WEIRD! Seriously, this isn’t the time to preach your beliefs. In fact, this isn’t even the time to bring up Jesus. Shocking! Ahh! But guess what – it’s ok! He gets that sometimes we don’t lead with him in order to build the relationship first, so that when we do bring up our faith, people don’t run away. So don’t be weird. Just be friendly.
- Spring for some good candy. Have some water in a cooler. You don’t have to go over the top, but show some hospitality through simple things like good candy and water. I’ve got friends that set up a fire pit and hand out hotdogs. But be generous if you can.
- Come out of your house, and set up chairs at the bottom of your driveway. Seriously – no one is going to want to chat when you crack the door and toss some candy out. So get out there so you can actually see both the kids and their parents.
- And then, when kids and their folks show up, actually talk to them! Introduce yourselves, ask their names, compliment the costumes, and just take the time to make these people, who you live by every day, feel noticed. Seen. Valued. You want to be Jesus here on early, then remember that these people, they are deeply loved and treasured by God too. Just like you, they were also created in His image.
- DON’T BE WEIRD – seriously, it’s worth saying again. Don’t be weird. For the sake of all Christians out there, just be chill, and talk to them like a normal person. Don’t approach every interaction with an agenda, unless that agenda is to tell them they look rad and hand out some delicious candy.
We need to stop complicating life, and start loving simply. This can be hard, especially if you were raised to treat this day as nothing but evil. So let me ask you this, what harm is going to come from it? I’ve yet to be struck by lightening because of my participation in a fun tradition. In fact, it’s because of this very day, that I’ve managed to convince friends who would never otherwise step foot on a church campus to come with us, to celebrate and have fun. We can certainly agree to disagree, but I promise you this, the message you send by passing out a little candy, reaching out to your neighbors, and getting to know them, is far more powerful than a darkened house and saintly attitude.
So go have some fun this week! And be the light in an otherwise dark world.