October 2016 – October has arrived and the leaves are changing to beautiful red and golden hues. But the very end of October seems to be overshadowed by a specter that, for some, is a herald of evil.
Many of the traditions of modern-day Halloween find their roots in the harvest celebration of the ancient Celts, which they called Samhain. On this day the veil between the realms of the dead and the living was supposedly lifted, and the superstitious Celts would leave offerings of food on their doorsteps to appease the wandering spirits. In the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV decided to celebrate All Saint’s Day the day after Samhain – in fact, this is how the name “Halloween” came to be. Hallow is an archaic word for saint, and Samhain became known as All Hallow’s Eve.
Today, the ties between the pagan festival of Samhain and the modern holiday are hardly more than historical, but the church is still ambivalent on the topic. Is Halloween truly a stronghold of evil, or is it a harmless celebration of costumes and candy?
There may be no clear answer. There is no verse in the Bible that explicitly forbids skeletons and pumpkins for Christians, except that God made them both and called them good (Genesis 1:31). But one thing is certain – God does not fall asleep on October 31. No day belongs to the devil.
A half gospel
It is a rare occurrence that the world lays an evangelistic opportunity in our laps such as Halloween. We find ourselves surrounded by grisly demonstrations of horror and the influence of sin, even if our friends and neighbors have innocent intentions. What we have here is a half gospel, the half that expounds upon the reality of sin without redemption, the inevitability of eternal death for those who do not know the true God. It can be a temptation to lock the doors and turn out the lights, but the Lord of Hosts never orders His armies to retreat.
There is no reason to fear Halloween. Is death being celebrated? Christ holds the keys of Death and Hell (Revelation 1:18). Yes, “monsters” exist as metaphorical correlations to sin and the spiritual forces of evil, but God’s stories always include a knight to slay the dragon. There is not one thing in Halloween that does not fall under God’s dominion. Halloween offers one half of the gospel story – and it is up to Christians to finish it with the grand finale of redemption, the death of death, and the rise of an eternal dawn.
The true lord of Halloween
Satan is nothing if not a liar. And on Halloween, he boasts how strong he is and parades his horde through our streets, reveling in his own deception.But we can expose him for who he truly is – a failure, a wannabe, a pretender to the throne – if we let the gospel light shine.
The true Lord of Halloween is the one who holds Satan on a leash – Christ Jesus. “By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
Pastor and author David Mathis writes in an article on desiringgod.org:
Because of the authority of Jesus, and his power within us — and remembering that Satan is our enemy, not our neighbors — we lean into Halloween, not away. We turn the porch lights on to chase away the darkness. We have the best candy on the street and give with generosity, not the cheapest fair with a miser’s hand.
We open the door wide and linger in conversation. We plan ahead about how to make the most of this unique opportunity, when a society of people who increasingly keep to themselves in the neighborhood turn on lights and knock on doors.
Halloween does not belong to the devil. It is the property of Christ and an opportunity, when so many are caught up in the symbolism and glorification of death, for the Church to shine like a beacon.
Tracts & Treats
Many halloween tracts share the gospel. Visit these sites and search “halloween.”