So it is that time of year again. The neo-evangelical, non-denominational, baptist and a few others are advertising their “Harvest” festivals. All around town you see their banners and I’ve even received a few fliers in the mail. It is that time when Christians began to ramp up their alternatives the Halloween. God’s people will encourage one another that instead of going our trick-or-treating in their own neighborhoods they will hole up in their church parking lots or multipurpose rooms and have a “Harvest” festival that has nothing at all to do with the harvest – at least not in Ventura California.
Now look I spent my first 8 years in the ministry firmly tucked in the Bible Belt I have heard all the reasons why this is a day that celebrates the Devil and all good Christians ought to avoid it. I know that at a “Harvest” festival what they will do is play carnival style games, wear costumes and get candy. The thing is (and this is very important!) they will be doing exactly what everyone else will be doing on Halloween just doing it at the church! And how much do you want to bet that these same nannies will head off to Yoga class or put their kids in Karate without giving it a second thought, though they too have spiritual traditions that are offensive to our faith?
What really drives me insane about this crap is that this becomes yet another way for one Christian to judge another, another way to press down a brother or sister under the weight of the Law. A friend shared with me a Facebook link she received about this very thing, one person telling the rest that if you celebrate Halloween you do so either out of ignorance or willful promotion of evil over good. Now that is simply stupid! I grew up trick-or-treating and I loved it, I love taking my own kids now. Sure things can go too far, sure some may use this as an excuse to glorify evil over good but does that mean we need to develop an alternative in the church and condemn those who love getting dressed up and going trick-or-treating?
When I was in college we developed an alternative of sorts. We held a Reformation Party on the 31st where we dressed as characters from that time and even read some inspiring words of the age. But this also ended up going too far, what started as a group of friends finding a clever excuse to dress up and drink together several years later turned into a pinata shaped like the pope (yes this actually happened) which gave those chocolate coins when hit hard enough.
I applaud the desire to not have so much of the gory-severed-head type of decorations around. But its a big leap from that to the little girl dressed like Snow White saying, “Trick or Treat” at your door. Lighten up a little, get to know your neighbors and have some fun. Halloween can only harm your faith if you live under a system of the Law but thanks be to God you have been given Christ and in Christ you just might enjoy trick-or-treating.