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Happy All-Hallows'-Eve!

October 31 2017
October 31 2017

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Tonight communities all across America will celebrate Halloween. Tara and I will also be on our front porch greeting the neighborhood children with the traditional candied treats. As Christians though, how ought we to respond to this holiday?

The word "Halloween" is simply a contraction for All Hallows' Eve. The word "hallow" means "saint," — ”hallow” is just an alternative form of the word "holy" ("hallowed be Thy name"). All Saints' Day is November 1, and celebrates the victory of Christian saints in union with Christ. The observance of various celebrations of All Saints arose in the late 300s, and these were united and fixed on November 1 in the late 700s. All Saints Day wonderfully reminds us that the powers arrayed against every Christian—be they sin, death and the devil—have been vanquished by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In Christ, the decisive blow against every evil power has been struck.  No longer ought we to be those who live in fear.  Thus, on this day Christians are called to remember Christ, our victor!

In times past, the evening preceding a day was considered the actual beginning of the festive day. Christmas Eve is familiar to us.  Similarly, All Saints' Eve precedes All Saints' Day, hence, Halloween—and its connection with Christianity.

Nevertheless, there are also non-Christian connections to Halloween.  The ancient people of the Druids believed that ghosts and witches were more likely to wander about on this night than others.  On this day it was thought that the powers of evil were more powerful.  According to some, the custom of dressing up in disguises was a way of leading evil spirits to think that you were one of them.

In contrast to this, the Christian celebration of All Saints Day became a vivid reminder of the greater power of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Many have said that Christians dressed up portraying Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns and a tail to poke fun at the one who has ultimately lost the battle to king Jesus. For this reason, All Saints Day and All Hallows Eve (Halloween) are helpful reminders. In Jesus Christ, we have nothing to fear.

Of course, the debate about how we relate to Halloween will continue among Christians. This is also why understanding the historical context of these celebrations is important. Halloween is the original “national night out”! On this night Christians have a wonderful opportunity to communicate the grace found in the Gospel by showing hospitality to their neighbors.

Rather than turning off the lights and retreating into our own homes, why not linger in our front yards, walk our streets and join in the festivities? There are few days in our culture when entire neighborhoods are out together, and few times when people are more open to relationship than on Halloween. Let’s not forget that, even on Halloween, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2)


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