We don’t really do much in the way of “celebrating” Reformation Day…unless you consider a history lesson and coloring pages a “celebration.” (Crazy homeschoolers that we are.)
Though they fall on the same day, Halloween and Reformation Day are two distinct events…although more and more I see Christians – and churches – trying to combine the two, with “Halloween Alternatives” in honor of “Reformation Day.”
I like the idea of children (especially non-churched kids) having a safe, non-scary alternative to going door-to-door… But, at the same time, I do not like the mentality that says, we don’t want to participate in the “pagan” aspects of this day, but we don’t want our kids to miss out on the “fun” of it…
“We don’t TRICK-or-treat, but TRUNK-or-treat is okay.”
“We don’t dress up in the neighborhood, but it is okay if we are going to church.”
My least favorite might be, “we don’t celebrate Halloween, we celebrate Reformation Day…by dressing up like a superhero, and getting candy from the neighbors.” Um…okay. Because Batman has what to do with Martin Luther? I know there are some who will argue that Christians are free to celebrate, or participate, in “Halloween” in whatever manner they choose. Okay, fine. There are others who will argue that a Christian should have nothing to do with this holiday. Again, fine.
But, let’s be honest – with ourselves, and with our children – about what we are doing. Call it what it is, and own what we do… And, maybe, redeem the day for the sake of the Gospel!
There is nothing inherently evil about eating candy or playing dress-up. Both happen in our home, regardless of the date on the calendar. Dress up, and the corresponding imaginative play, is pretty much an everyday occurrence. Throughout the course of a day, I might see a fairy, a princess, a chef, a mommy, a bunny, or a ballerina…I have a child with a very vivid imagination, who loves to make up and act out stories. And, that is something that I encourage. So long as the costume is modest, and honoring to the Lord, I am not opposed to dress-up, or imaginative play. Candy, though consumed in (extreme) moderation, could potentially be found in our home on any given day as well.
But, when it comes to this particular date on the calendar, we participate in a very limited way, and only in the aspects that we believe would not compromise our testimony as believers, or our witness to our neighbors.
While we do allow Hannah to have candy, we do try to limit the amount of refined sugar we consume. And, if Hannah were to go trick-or-treating, she would probably collect far more candy than the three of us combined could consume before next Halloween! So, it seems pointless to allow her to collect large amounts of candy, knowing that she will not be able, or allowed, to eat it all. Plus, knowing that someone spent money on it, I would just feel wasteful throwing it out.
Second, safety is a major concern. I fully, and willingly admit to being an over-protective mama, and sheltering my children. Frankly, it is hard enough to keep track of a child who is running around at the park in full daylight, with several other children all dressed in normal clothing. But, throw darkness, and 40 or so other children in similar costumes into the mix…and the difficulty grows exponentially. And, these days, even “safe” suburban neighborhoods are peppered with sex offenders (check it out online for yourself…it was quite the eye-opening experience for me when I first did!). And, you just can’t be too careful.
Lastly, while I do not see anything inherently evil in candy and costumes, there are aspects of Halloween that are dark, scary, and evil. Many homes utilize the spooky “decorations” (ghosts, witches, etc.), scary music, or stunts intended to frighten. And, personally, I do not find it at all amusing, or enjoyable to scare children. And, exposure to that which is scary and evil, in the name of “fun,” making it appear innocent, desensitizes children, and adults alike, to the reality, and the seriousness of spiritual warfare.Witches and evil spirits are real. And they are evil. They are not a source of entertainment or a cause for celebration.We live in a world that glorifies sin, fear, and death. And, as much as I would like to shield my daughter from all of the scary, evil aspects of this holiday (and in the world in general), I simply cannot. She still sees the ghosts, and witches, and skeletons on the house down the street or at the grocery store. (And, believe me, if I could avoid going to the store this time of year, I probably would…but, I can’t, my family still wants to eat!) Even if I did attempt to go to that extreme, she still has friends (yes, even Christian friends!) who like to talk about the scary side of Halloween, or whose parents allow them to participate in aspects of this holiday that we do not.
But, short of barricading ourselves in the house, with no access to the outside world for the entire month of October, or longer (don’t think I haven’t considered it!), I have not found an effective way of avoiding “the world” at this time of year.
Honestly, most of me would prefer to just turn out the lights, close the door, and ignore Halloween altogether…
If the world is willingly coming to my door once a year, you had better believe that I am going to be ready to answer!
The simple act of opening the door, and passing out candy can be a great way to meet and interact with neighborhood children and families. And that alone may present opportunities for relationships and the gospel.
But, I don’t want to be just like all the other houses in the neighborhood. Everyone is giving out candy.
We could be that house, and just give out tracts. But, as a general rule, I’m not a big fan of “tract evangelism.” I just do not see how throwing a tract at someone, with no interaction, and no follow-up, does any good in the eternal scheme of things.
So, I picked up John Piper’s “10 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die,” at a local Christian bookstore, and stuck a label with our church’s website on the back. I realize that many, if not most, of the tracts probably ended up in the trash. But, I included our church’s website as a way for someone to get more information, or ask questions…just in case they did happen to read the tract. It may not be ideal as far as evangelistic efforts, but it is better than nothing! And, just so we don’t get mistaken for that house, I put together a bag with a few “treats” as well!
Are we compromising our Christian testimony by participting in this day…even a very limited way?
We live in this world, but we are not to be of it.
So, although we do not “celebrate” Halloween, we do “participate.” And, we do so in hopes that a literal open door might lead to spiritual open doors in the future.