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October 25, 2011

I’ve never really been someone who participated in Halloween. My decision was more laziness than conviction. I have never wanted to take the time to find a costume. Even as a kid I wasn’t that into it and, as a result, I really have not given it much critical thought, until yesterday.

I bought my son a fire fighter costume earlier that afternoon so he could participate in a Saturday afternoon trick-or-treat event sponsored by the neighborhood businesses. He was excited, so excited he put it on right away. We were outside kicking the soccer ball around when my neighbor came home. After a quick explanation as to why he was wearing a red jacket and red hat, my neighbor, who knows I am a Christian, asked in a very surprised tone,  “You’re going to do Halloween?”

Maybe I am reading too much into how and what my neighbor said. Regardless, it made me think. As a Christian, how should I think about Halloween?

I know for some people it is fun day of dressing up and bobbing for apples. I know that for others, particularly those involved with practices of witchcraft, it is sacred day of celebration. For some they celebrate the Reformation and Day while others use it to prepare for All Saints Day. But the following are some initial thoughts:

1. Rituals shape us. Our rituals shape us. Our daily, monthly, yearly practices tell us what to think and what to love. So, dressing up every year on Halloween shapes us in some way shape or form. This does not mean we shouldn’t participate but rather we have to work to give the ritual meaning for ourselves and those we love.

2. Matter of conscience. If something is not specifically forbidden in Scripture it is then a matter of conscience. This is true for Halloween. I think if someone does not want to participate in it, that is fine. Don’t.

3. Faithful presence. Christians are called to live faithfully present lives. This means we are not to withdraw, hate, assimilate but love the city by living distinctively Christian lives. We are love our neighbors and seek their welfare. We are to seek to live faithful lives in everything we do. We are to celebrate those things that are good and challenge those that are not. My point is that Halloween is usually a community event. Whether you are talking about going house to house Halloween evening or some harvest party, it is a time that our neighborhoods decorate their homes, dress up, trick-or-treat, carve pumpkins, put dried corn on their porches, and hang wreaths filled with colored leaves on their door. I think because it is a neighborhood ritual, it is good to participate in some way for the sake of friendship. It is an opportunity to say to others we are with you.

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