In the very early centuries of the church, bishops would write annual holiday letters to their congregations and communities in order to encourage the faithful and to instruct in ways that might not otherwise be addressed from the normal week to week preaching from the pulpit. These were usually Easter letters providing meditations and teachings on the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Along those lines I thought I would send out a “holiday letter” of my own to encourage the faithful during this season of controversial candy and costumes. I realize that posting this letter will by necessity mean that I must come up with a second post rather quickly or else become irrelevant as the 31st passes us by.
Many Christians are not quite sure what to do with Halloween. Do we trick? Do we treat? Do we offer a “safe alternative?” Do we batten down the shutters more securely than if there were a category 4 hurricane ripping through our neighborhood? What is the proper response?
My desire here is not to bind your consciences or to tempt you to sin against your consciences, but to inform your conscience and help you, in whatever you do, to do all to the glory of God and with the absolute assurance of the joy of your salvation.
Whatever else might be said about the 31st of October and the origins of the activities therein, it can safely be said that the day has become “National Candy Day.” When I was growing up there were basically two categories of those who did not celebrate Halloween or pass out candy to children: Jehovah’s Witnesses and party poopers. Now, I am pretty sure that no one attending Hope of Christ Church is considering a life in the Watchtower, so that sort of leaves one category. October 31 is the one day out of the entire year that you can walk up to your neighbors’ doors uninvited, ring the doorbell and say hello and introduce yourself and your family, and you will be greeted with a smile rather than suspicion. In so many ways subdivisions are an ugly blight on the landscape, but on October 31 people are out walking the streets, laughing with each other, and just having fun. And for the majority of the families out, it is just good, clean fun.
Concerning the “safe alternatives” I do have some reservations, but these can be done with the same joy and love for others. But do consider whether these alternatives are not simply the “Christianizing” of the same thing that is going on in your neighborhood. Are we merely removing the salt and light form the neighborhood and collecting it all together in a parking lot for all the same candy and dress up and fun? Why can’t we do that in our neighborhoods?
What about passing out more “Christian alternatives” to high fructose corn syrup and xanthum gum and other polysacharides (“Here’s a ‘treat’ you can suck on for eternity while your friends all burn in a lake of fire”)? My only cautionary advice would be that if you are going to be known as “that house” that gives the little darlings something to read and ponder you should also be known as “that house” that gives out the bestest most awesomest candy in the neighborhood. If you give out tracts or the like, attach them to king size candy-bars or twenty-dollar bills, then tell the kids to spread the word. Nothing is more effective than word-of-mouth advertising. “Don’t go to that house, you just get Halls mentholyptus.” “Wow, those guys are giving out huge goody bags attached to a little booklet!”
None of this is to claim that every costume is appropriate or that gluttony is excusable, but simply to say that Halloween is an opportunity for us all to enjoy each other and our neighbors. Whatever you do this Halloween be sure that the manner in which you communicate your convictions is one of love and respect for others who may not share those convictions
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. —Colossians 4:5,6
Peace to you all,