I love Halloween. Really? Yep. I do. Oh, it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, growing up, Mom used to say, “Do you kids think we could skip Halloween this year?” She never liked paying attention to the scary, dark, gruesome, or witchy side of the evening set aside to dress up in costume. Mom had rules about the apparel we could pick to don for the annual trick-or-treat trek around our neighborhood. We could not align ourselves with anything that was offensive or evil. That meant we had to get really creative.
I remember the many seasons my siblings and I would take turns passing around the angel costume. So one year, the holy apparel was already claimed by my little sister, which meant I had to dig deep to find a new costume . . . and I mean really mine the cavernous shelves of mom’s closet. It was there I found it. It was perfect: a bright flamingo terry cloth bathrobe, complete with a few coffee stains on the sleeves and collar. Oh yes, I even found the matching fluffy slippers. Further rummaging through the bathroom drawers produced necessary accessories—hot pink sponge rollers and a stretched-out hairnet. Eureka! I had found the perfect costume.
Underneath the Palmolive cold cream on my face, I vowed NO ONE would recognize me. Oh, was I wrong. Instead of pulling off an evening of anonymity, I ended up wishing I could hide in a cloak of invisibility. My outfit was ill-fitting, embarrassing, and even a tad risqué. It wasn’t until halfway through our first lap around the block that I discovered a rip all the way up the back of the robe. That’s right. Like a hospital gown. It was a very drafty evening in more ways than one. Following this horrible experience, Halloween became something for me to avoid. Go figure.
So why do I love Halloween? I mean, how do I really embrace it? I choose to do so. I’ve decided to get over that far-off fateful childhood Halloween night of humiliation, shame, and dishonor. I’ve chosen to enter into a conversation with a culture that uplifts three critical areas. These areas are connection points for dialogue about spiritual things: dark versus light, attention to blood, and obsession with death versus overjoyed with life. We are aware Halloween has long been connected with images of witches, ghosts, goblins, and devils. This year an anticipated 171 million people are to celebrate Halloween. In 2015, more than 157 million American celebrated Halloween, 70% handed out candy, 47% carved a pumpkin, 65 to 75% of 18- to 40-year-olds wore a costume. According to a NRF annual survey, total spending in 2016 is expected to reach about $8.4 billion—spending on costumes, cards, and candy. That is an average of $82.93 per person. (Stats found here.)
So why do I love Halloween? I welcome the opportunity to talk to others about the three components that make Halloween the huge event it has become. The first area most of us want to avoid is the dark. I remember being afraid of the dark when I was a preschooler. As a young mom, I was still afraid of the dark and wanted to avoid talking with my children about the dark. So as I embrace a new view of welcoming Halloween, I will choose to talk about the dark and how the way the dark is contrasted is because of the light. I want to enter into talk about the contrasts of dark and light.
Dark versus Light
In literature, these two are used to compare contrasts of ideas like good and bad, love and hate, life or death. When these two are used in tandem, they are placed in close proximity to each other to compare or accentuate ideas. This imagery’s purpose is to appeal to the reader’s senses in a familiar way. Without the light there would be no darkness and vice versa. In the beginning, God choose to make a differentiation between light and darkness.
As believers we are to live in a different way, set apart from the darkness. So what should we do about Halloween? Celebrate it? I think not. But we cannot ignore it. We are to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light,” says Romans 13:12. Individually, we must interpret this for ourselves and discover how to live out our own personal witness. For my young family, our children in junior high and high school, and our congregation enjoyed years of hosting a Harvest Festival alternative for our community. The church’s expansive campus welcomed more than 5,000 hungry, costumed children along with their families for an option instead of “taking to the streets to trick-or-treat.”
“God saw the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:4
“I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.” Ecclesiastes 2:13
“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning, my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28
Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others,” in Matthew 5:16a. A lamp is not lit to be hidden under a basket; it is to be placed on a stand. It gives light to everything around it. We must take time to engage in relationships with people and invest in others. The light always reflects back to its source. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven,” says Matthew 5:16b. God is the Father of Heavenly Lights—He created the sun, moon, and stars, yet Jesus shines as the light of the world. When we choose to let the Light shine through us, He brings truth and hope to those in the dark.
“You Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28
“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 19:8
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
There seems to be an increased interest in blood these days. In the USA, the actual makings of horror movies and video games that offer violence and blood have increased 53% since 2007. A new study has proven that watching aggression on screen can contribute to being a real-life bully. There are arguments on both sides of this controversy: to bleed or not to bleed. I revert to the pure and simple advice my parents used to help us filter our viewing: “Garbage in garbage out.”
I think there’s more to why today’s culture is blood-thirsty. You too may have wondered, Why are so many infatuated with blood? I believe we are wired to yearn for blood—but not just any blood. We need to seek the purifying, cleansing, and healing blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, God required animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering of sins. This was to foreshadow the complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Animal sacrifices were commanded by God so a person could experience forgiveness of sin. The animal sacrifice was the substitute, but animal sacrifice stopped when Jesus Christ shed his blood.
Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrificial substitute once and for all. Jennifer Kennedy Dean best describes it in this article, “Power In The Blood.” “Blood is an earth-substance that God gave us to illustrate a spiritual reality. Earth-blood is a copy of shadow of what blood means in heaven. God points us to this illustration in His creation by saying, ‘For the life of a creature is in the blood. The blood of Jesus has two functions in my life, forgiveness and purification.’ ‘The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (I John 1:7,9).”
“The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.” Leviticus 5:10
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29
“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22
The Walking Dead. It is a phenomenon, a blockbuster zombie apocalypse television series now in season six, with almost 20 million viewers. Why do so many people like this show? According to this article, viewers watch because of a few important reasons:
- Identify with survivors and feel strong.
- Escape from the cruel world.
- Become the person we always wanted to be.
- Learn to become tough.
Obviously, folks are obsessed with The Walking Dead because it empowers them. These are valuable things to learn and know, but in further investigation, I found an article by Scott Elliott in which he says there are additional lessons for believers to learn through The Walking Dead. Remember, I am not recommending we should watch the show or not; I am offering you information to help you hold meaningful conversations with those who do. According to the statistics, there are many who probably live, work, and shop alongside you. Here’s what is notable for us as those who are in Christ, as we desire to serve each other through community: “The Walking Dead not only critiques individualism, but it also explores community. As the show has progressed, the community has gotten more complex, and the original survivor group has encountered other communities. Yet the point is not community alone, but how community is cultivated and maintained.”
Some watch The Walking Dead for mere entertainment. Others can’t handle zombies and gore and violent blood-shedding. Bottom line: The Walking Dead reminds us of communities where we live. There are two kinds of dangers exposed in the storyline of the show: those from the outside and those on the inside of us. We must fight injustice, violence, and pride on the outside as much as we must come against these evils inside of ourselves.
Talk about The Walking Dead with those in your sphere: moms at the grocery store, dads at work, at the carpool, soccer practice and Sunday school class. People watch The Walking Dead. It’s up to us not to be afraid to engage in an intelligent conversation about what these dear ones are learning through the episodes.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judges but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death to keep its hold on him.” Acts 2:24
“For if, by the trespass of one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17
“. . . that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” John 3:15
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life.” John 3:36
I love Halloween. Yes, I do. What are you doing this weekend? Many “celebrations” begin tonight. We have an amazing opportunity to talk about more than humiliating costumes of our childhood, last year’s spoiled candy still waiting to be disposed of, or even past episodes of The Walking Dead. Let’s enter into a conversation with a needy culture using the connecting points of three critical areas: dark versus light, attention to blood, obsession with death versus overjoyed with life. Look for ways to share the healing light, to share your personal experience with the power of the blood of Jesus, and to offer the hope of an abundant life in Jesus Christ. The world is waiting.
I am praying for you,
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