The question of Halloween comes up in your small group and, to you, it’s not really a question at all. You’ve been waiting for your whole family to dress up as the Incredibles since last year when you dressed up like Dr. Suess characters; Thing 1 and Thing 2 never looked so cute.
“Christians have no business participating in anything on Halloween!” Your enthusiasm takes a gut punch as the sweet lady next you declares her disgust for October 31st. You hope she doesn’t realize that you brought the orange iced cupcakes with the black cats on top. She goes on to inform the group of the entire history of Halloween and what awful things are happening in the dead of night. She and her husband proudly proclaim that their family shut off all the lights and hide in the prayer closet until morning. You haven’t known them long but you have respected their passion and conviction. The intensity for which they despise Halloween was unexpected.
You leave the meeting, and the cupcakes, confused and discouraged. You have pumpkins sitting at home waiting to be carved into Disney characters with the family. You promised to supply healthy snacks for the third grade Halloween party and goodie bags for the first-grade class. Last year you placed a jack-o-lantern, carved to look like Olaf from Frozen, in the front yard; it was intended to let people know you like warm hugs, not to ward off evil spirits.
The wonderfully intense woman has it right, but so do you. She is doing exactly what those she is lead to minister to need. She is doing exactly what her children need to see. Imagine if she was consistently deriding certain things in our culture and then fully participated in Halloween. This would not match up with the themes of faith God had laid on her heart, with the people He intended for her to minister to.
Then there is you; you do not care for evil things. You do not believe in superstitions. You do not celebrate death. The decorations that give your kids nightmares have never sat right with you, but you love the family time and art of carving pumpkins, interacting with your children’s classmates and neighbors, dressing up as fun characters and free candy.
You have a ministry as well. Even if you don’t take it out to the people in your community, you have one at home with your children. Halloween is a great conversation starter with your kids when you explain where the boundaries are for Halloween as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Your passionate small group friend may have helped you ditch the black cats and some of the other superstitious imagery, but you still provide the cupcakes.
You become more purposeful about what you will and will not do on Halloween and you start praying about it. God is not the author of confusion, and he promises that if you seek you will find. Halloween does a wonderful thing for believers in Christ: it challenges us to become more intentional about our faith. Hopefully not just for the one day but for every day of the year. It provides great conversation among parents and peers when it is conducted in love and patience with one another.
The Bible encourages us to “always be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have” in 1 Peter 3:15; hope that we can show every day of the year. It also gives us examples of how the apostles conducted ministry unique to their gifts and character. At times this led to disagreements and probably accounts for the numerous times we are encouraged to get along and not fight with one another (see Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”). So whether you are all in on Halloween, all out, or somewhere in-between, I’m trusting the Holy Spirit to do his work in your life. What things have you found really resonate with your community, or your children, in a positive way on Halloween?