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What if I told you that Halloween, the holiday that encourages fear and the one most steeped in pagan tradition, is one of the best opportunities you have for evangelism all year long? Would that change your thinking about October 31st? Or would you continue to shun Halloween as "a festival of the Devil" and a mistake for Christians to celebrate?
Halloween originated with an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. It was celebrated the evening before their New Year on November 1st. But as the Church grew, so did their influence.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints Day and said it was a time to honor all saints. But people weren't fully convinced they should give up all the Samhain traditions. After all, who doesn't like bonfires and costumes and bobbing for apples?
All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, began to be celebrated the night before. As time went on, people started incorporating their fall crops (like pumpkins) into the celebrations and giving food, beer, and treats to the poor.
And now, over a thousand years after Pope Gregory III decreed that All Saints Day would be a replacement for Samhain, we have Halloween. It's celebrated by nearly everyone in one way or another. How can we use October 31st to our advantage?
I can't think of a single day when the streets are as busy as they are on Halloween nights. Families and children walk around, groups sit outside their doors passing out candy, and most everyone is in a good mood.
We can use that.
If it's been a while since you struck up a conversation with your neighbor, what better night than Halloween? The awkwardness isn't there because you're just out enjoying the night with everyone else. And there are a ton of easy conversation starters all around you, from costumes to decorations to candy selection. You probably won't be talking about the Gospel in the first 30 seconds, but at the very least you're building a relationship with your neighbor.
Jesus told us to "love your neighbor" (Matthew 22:39). Maybe a little Halloween conversation is the first step towards you doing that.
When you think of spiritual disciplines, what do you think of?
Yup, those are all spiritual disciplines.
But so is celebration.
Skim through the Old Testament and you'll find all sorts of laws about how to celebrate correctly. God commanded that we have festivals and parties because He is a God of celebration.
By engaging in Halloween as a celebration, we create opportunities to invite people into our homes and build relationships. Eat with them. Laugh with them. Show them who Christ is by your hospitality, and your ability to have fun at a party.
We tend to have selective memory when it comes to Jesus, and we forget that His first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding celebration (John 2). Jesus isn't only about partying, but it's clearly part of who He is.
This year, think about Halloween differently. Start a conversation with your neighbors. Invite people over for snacks and drinks. Dress up in a fun costume.
And point to Jesus while you show the world how to celebrate.