Most of us love celebrations. Even if you are an introvert or are uncomfortable in social settings, there is something innate in us that draws life from a celebration. We celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Easter, the 4th of July, new births, retirements, baptisms, and all sort of other things. We even celebrate our sports teams with city-wide parades when they win. Something in us loves to celebrate.
But Should We Celebrate Halloween?
As followers of Jesus, talk of “celebrating “Halloween feels a little weird, doesn’t it? The origins and cultural symbols surrounding Halloween are a little dark, and they don’t represent the values we love as the people of God.
At the same time, many of the people around us do celebrate Halloween on some level, and there are some things about it that many of us feel some desire to participate in: school parties, trick-or-treating, or hanging out with friends. After all, it’s an excuse to celebrate.
In the midst of this tension of being caught between two worlds, it seems the options we have come up with are full-on participation, full-on disengagement, or “Christianized” engagement (church Fall festivals, Biblical character costumes, etc.).
In Acts 2.46-47, we see this:
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (emphasis added)
There is a lot that can be said about how the early church lived and how those principles apply in 21st century America, but three things we can clearly see:
- They lived among the people (not separated from them).
- They lived in a way that gained the favor of the people .
- They lived in a way that led people toward Jesus.
They didn’t pull themselves away from the culture and people they lived among, but they also did not engage that culture in the same way everyone else did. They lived in the world, but were clearly of another world.
Halloween as a Mission Field
“For a moment, let’s imagine you are a missionary in a foreign country. You just moved in and are getting a feel for the culture and daily life of the inhabitants. Very few know about Jesus, and ancestral worship is the most common religious practice. You’ve been praying about opportunities to connect with the people and share about Jesus. Then, you hear about a large ancestral worship festival in which all of the city will be out. If you will only turn on your porch light, they will come to your door to exchange small gifts. Wouldn’t you thank God for an opportunity to meet so many of the dead people you want to reach? To expose them (even for just a few moments) to the hope you have in Jesus? Of course you would.”
Here’s the reality: if you are willing, on October 31st your mission field (your neighbors) are coming to your house a few at a time. You don’t have to pass out flyers or send out invitations or create a Facebook event. They’re already coming!
Think about that through the lens of Acts 2.46-47. What if we openly embraced our neighbors (not necessarily all the Halloween hoopla) in a way that was noticeably of another world?
Exercise Missional Hospitality
For most people, this night is about getting. What if, for us, it was about giving? Most people’s lives are disconnected. What if we were brokers of connection, or to put it another way, “ministers of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5.18)?
What if, instead of embracing the spooky/scary things, or only dressing as creation/Bible characters and going to church events (which are both fine, by the way! Who doesn’t love a good Jonah and the whale costume?), we pray and look for ways to love and engage our neighbors with kindness and generosity?
You don’t have to go crazy or spend a ton of money. Just buy good candy or treats. Or host a get-together of some of your friends and neighbors, maybe even in the front yard, and serve hot drinks or warm snacks. You can offer a cup of coffee or a cookie to trick-or-treaters and their parents. You could even ask briefly if there’s anything in their life that you could pray about.
That last one may feel a little strange, and some will say no. But some might say yes, and it will give all of them a little taste of a different world. You may even get a chance to share some of the gospel or your own story, but even if not, your hospitality, your generosity, and your love will embody the values of the Kingdom on such a worldly night, and that will be noticeable to most and intriguing to some.
And from there, who knows? Maybe the Lord will add to our number those are being saved?