Listen to: Jeremy Camp "Same Power"
In a few days, the doorbell will ring and we will be greeted by a chorus of “trick or treat!” sung by a choir of princesses, aliens, animals, even a few ghouls and zombies. We will throw a handful of Kit Kats and Snickers into their treat bags before they take off to the next house.
Halloween. Now there’s a tradition that has transformed as we’ve grown up. The retail industry has gotten wiser and craftier. No more homemade costumes, apples, or handout donuts or cider. With sweeter treats, fancier costumes, even for the pets, elaborate decorations for home and yard, movies and other attractions, Halloween now nets a cool $7 billion dollars a year.
Halloween has become even more controversial among conservative Christians and even other people of faith, who refuse to allow their children to participate in it. Yes, it has its roots in pagan religion, which believed that October 31-November 2 (Samhain) was the New Year when the “veil lifted.” The spirits walked the earth once more. In ancient times people were even more frightened of the dark. So between visiting with old ancestors and placating the evil ones, a whole mish-mash of traditions arose to deal with this potent spiritual time for the ancient Celts.
Like with Christmas and Easter, Christians offered adaptions to the pagan celebrations that were taking place. Halloween means “Hallow’s Eve” or Hallowmas, referring to the All Saints Day celebration on November 1. It was a reminder to pagan converts that the loved ones that were remembered during the Samhain time were not lost but were with the Lord. Trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns can all be traced to these ancient customs.
Some people are uncomfortable with Halloween because of its connected to evil and darkness. I have grown to respect Halloween. Evil has existed in the world since the Fall. Any depth psychologist will tell you that we all have a dark aspect to our personality. Traditional theologians might even frame it as “original sin.” An original wounding. We each are broken in a different way. Halloween offers us two things.
To bring that brokenness to light. Children need to face their fears, even darkness. Halloween can allow them to do this, in a safe, contained way, even playfully. If we can do this and name the darkness within ourselves, we have a chance to take it to Jesus for healing.
If we don’t, we run the risk of acting unconsciously on every hurtful, spiteful impulse without even knowing why. Halloween is a good time to reflect on that.
Halloween also always us to explore hidden gifts, desires; even what we imagine ourselves capable of becoming someday. There are just as many superheroes collecting treats as there are villains. Children need to be allowed the ability to explore all aspects of their personalities. Let’s awaken the Christ nature within. Let’s gently help them see and heal the broken parts. In this respect Halloween is a gift.
Halloween points us to the lives of the saints of heaven. Throw out all your old definition of saints. Saints are simply ordinary people who didn’t give up. Saints had struggles just like us. They had different talents and challenges, just like us. Halloween invites us to image ourselves as saints, as much as explore all the characters created, because God created us to be saints. Saints are just people who have touched upon their divine calling and held onto to it, thick or thin.
So dress up on Halloween. Give out candy. Reflect on where you need healing. However, remember, deep down, you are a saint. You are a beloved, child of God.
Prayer: “God, help me see the brokenness within. Heal me so I may be a saint in your kingdom.”
HAVE A BLESSED WEEK!