HALLOWEEN - GOOD OPPORTUNITY! - 10/28/18

HALLOWEEN; … GOOD OPPORTUNITY! 10-28-2018
Romans 14: 1-9
This time of year is unlike any other in many respects. … Every shopping center
and grocery store is filled with all sorts of candy, costumes and colorful
decorations. … Children have and will be parading up and down the streets
disguised as their favorite characters voicing; … “Trick or Treat” and hold out
plastic bags or molded plastic pumpkins in hopes of collecting vast amounts of
candy. … This, of course, will result in many stomach problems the next day.
For Christians, … Halloween is perhaps the most difficult holiday to deal with.
Its darker side is disturbing yet it holds a bit of charm for us as we remember our
own childhood experiences this day. … Countless questions surround Halloween;
… Should we participate?; … Accommodate?; … Or vigorously denounce
Halloween?
When I researched Halloween, I discovered hundreds of web-sites with articles, …
sermons or editorials, … condemning the observance of this holiday.
In fact, … many Christians have taken a very strong stance in opposition to
Halloween on the grounds that it supports Satan-worship and pagan gods.
This places many of us, … especially those with children or grand children, in an
uncomfortable position. … How should we, as Christians, respond to this holiday?
Is it sinful and evil … or just fun and games? … Is it a problem … or a potential
opportunity?
To answer such questions, it’s helpful to look at Halloween from the viewpoint of
history. So let’s begin this morning with a: …
*HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF HALLOWEEN: …
First, … we should recognize that the American celebration of Halloween draws
heavily from Scottish and Irish folk customs that can be directly traced to pre-
Christian times and is rooted in the ancient Celtic feast of Samhain (sah-ween).
Although modern Halloweens can be viewed as nights of backslapping fun and
eerie games, … its pagan beginnings were not so innocent.
Originally, Halloween was a celebration of the Druids in honor of Samhain, whom
they believed to be the Lord of the Dead and whose festival fell on November 1st.
The Druids believed that on the eve of this festival, Samhain, … the Lord of the
Dead, … called together the wicked souls that within the past 12 months had been
condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals. … The veil, they believed, …
between the present world and the spirit world was pierced, … releasing demons,
witches and hobgoblins in mass to harass the living.
Curiously, … they thought that the cat was sacred because they thought that cats,
… especially black cats, … had once been human beings whose spirits were
transferred into the cat as a punishment for their evil deeds, … which makes us
wonder why they were sacred.
There was a dominant belief among many cultures that at death, … the souls of
good people were taken by noble spirits and carried to paradise … but the souls of
the wicked were left to wander in the space between the earth and the moon …
or consigned to inhabit animals. … Typically, … the Druids believed that on this
one night of the year, … the eve of the Samhain festival, … the spirits of the dead
returned to their original homes along with other ghosts and goblins.
In order to protect themselves or make themselves immune to the attacking
demons, … people disguised themselves as witches, devils, and ghouls; …
therefore, we derived the custom of wearing costumes for Halloween.
They also attempted to ward off evil spirits by carving scary and grotesque faces
on various gourds (including pumpkins) illuminated with candles.
In order to pacify the evil spirits, … they offered a variety of treats; … fruits,
vegetables, and other types of food. … If the demonic hordes were satisfied, …
it was believed they would leave the home in peace … but if they were not
satisfied, … if household didn’t offer any treats or the offering wasn’t good
enough, … the ghosts would trick you by casting a spell on you and wreaking
havoc in the home: … Thus the tradition of “trick or treat” was born.
Despite its sinister origins, however, … I think we can learn a lot from how the
early Christians responded to this Samhain festival. … As Christianity spread
throughout the Roman Empire and Europe, … many pagans and even Druids
converted to Christianity … but they were still very superstitious. … They didn’t
have Bibles back then and most were illiterate anyway. … So, … without proper
education, … many of these new believers brought their old superstitions with
them into the Church, … including their belief in ghosts and goblins.
In order to establish a rival celebration and to better educate new believers, …
the Church designated November 1 st as All Saints Day. … Rather than fearing the
onslaught of evil spirits who had been condemned during the course of the year, …
All Saints Day celebrated and honored all the saints, or martyrs, who had died that
year. … The mass held the evening prior to All Saints Day was called …
All Hallowmas … and October 31 st itself became known as All Hallow E’en
(Halloween). … Literally, … the word Halloween translates Holy Evening.
All Hallows Eve was an attempt on the part of Christianity to overwhelm the
tradition of ghouls with the truth of the gospel! … So, with this historical
perspective on Halloween in mind, let’s get a: …
*BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE OF HALLOWEEN: …
Obviously, we can’t look up the word Halloween in a concordance and expect to
find a Scripture reference to it … but there is one passage of Scripture that applies
and that is the scripture of our earlier reading, … Romans 14: 1-9.
The Apostle Paul addresses two specific issues here, that are relevant to
Halloween; … meat that had been sacrificed to pagan gods … and holidays.
First, … there were many new Christians who, … as I mentioned earlier, …
brought their old superstitious beliefs with them when they became Christians.
Some, … who had converted from paganism, … even though they had accepted
Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, … still believed in the gods of Roman and Greek
mythology. … That being so, … they refused to eat any meat that had been
sacrificed to those gods because they saw it as a form of worshipping those old
gods. … Other Christians, … who were more mature in their faith, … realized that
gods such as Zeus, Hermes or Athena didn’t really exist; … they’re just myths and
fairy tales. … As a result, … they had no problem eating meat that had been
sacrificed to those gods because they weren’t even real.
Also, some Christians wanted to celebrate special days or holidays, … such as the
Passover, … Hanukah … or other Jewish celebrations, … while other Christians
believed that every day was the same and there is no need to celebrate a holiday (or
holy day) … unless God specifically commanded us to do so.
To all of these Christians, Paul says; … “Therefore accept one another, just as the
Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7).
Now, if we take these two examples and put them together, … we get a clear
Biblical perspective on the controversy over Halloween. … Halloween is a holiday
(holy day) that was once dedicated to a pagan god. … Some people understand
there is no such thing as ghosts or goblins and have no problem participating in the
modern celebration. … Others believe that Halloween’s dubious origins make it
something in which Christians should not be involved. … I believe Paul would tell
us exactly what he told the Romans; … if it bothers your conscience, then don’t
participate; … if, on the other hand, … you can celebrate Halloween in a way that
honors and glorifies God, like the early Christians did, …then go for it!
Whatever you do, … do it for the glory of God.
Don’t forget that both Christmas and Easter have their origins in lustful pagan
festivals as well. … That doesn’t, however, … prevent Christians from captivating
their children with tales about Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. …
Halloween is no different. … Just because it centers on witches and warlocks
rather than furry woodland creatures and jolly fat men doesn’t put it in some other
category, … as long as we understand the difference between reality and fantasy
… and we communicate that difference to our children.
Pastors and preachers are always encouraging Christians to use holidays, such as
Easter and Christmas, … as opportunities for outreach … and personally, …
I would suggest the same thing for Halloween. … So, … understanding the
historical and biblical angle, … let me share a …
*PRACTICAL ASSESSMENT OF HALLOWEEN: …
In my opinion, … the unhealthiest path Christians can take on Halloween is turn
off the lights, … lock the door … and pretend no one is home. … Jesus said that
His purpose in coming to earth was to “seek and save the lost.”
That’s our mission also!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, … “In the same way, let your light shine
before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in
heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
So let’s follow the words of our Lord and Savior and let our lights shine, …
both our spiritual lights … and porch lights, … on a day that is typically known for
its darkness. …
Here’s some suggestions on how to use Halloween as a way to glorify God: …
1. Don’t turn out the lights and ignore it. … Halloween won’t go away. … So if
you don’t support this holiday, … determine to turn a negative into a positive.
2. If you’re staying home: … buy some candy, … answer the door … and when
you put candy in the children’s bags, … include some information about the
Church.
3. If you have children or grandchildren depending on you, … don’t take fun away
from them; … go “Trick-or-Treating” with them. … Again, this is an opportunity
to take some Church info or maybe the Church cards to hand out along the way.
Think about it: … how often can you go door to door on a day when almost
everyone will answer the door with a pleasant attitude?
4. Instead of playing scary music, … play Christian music really loud.
5. Dress up as a Bible character.
6. Buy a pumpkin and carve a cross in it, … placing a candle inside to symbolize
that Jesus is the light of the world.
7. PRAY! … Pray for the safety of the children who will be out on that night …
but more importantly, … pray that the Gospel will go out that night as well … and
that through God’s word some lost soul might come to know Jesus.
There will always be those who use special events like Halloween for pranks; …
teenagers who toilet paper houses, … soap a window screen … or experiment with
ouji-boards and witchcraft. … Those isolated events doesn’t make Halloween
inherently evil; … it just reveals the sinful nature of the human heart.
Shoot, … we’ve read about riots in Chicago streets just because the Bulls lost a
basketball game; … even sometimes because they won!
Anyone ever attempt to drive through downtown Dallas during Texas / Oklahoma
weekend back in the 60’s and 70’s? … If you were a stranger and didn’t know
better, … you’d believe you were in the middle of a riot!
People will use any excuse to practice evil; … it’s our job to overwhelm evil with
good; … to overwhelm the tradition of ghosts and goblins … with the truth of
God’s goodness and love. … In the end, … the trick … is to treat … Halloween as
a strategic opportunity, … rather than a time of satanic oppression.
To conclude: …
I like a story about Halloween that Laurie Beth Jones tells in her book, Grow
Something Besides Old. … She talks about one Halloween night when she had
underestimated the number of children who would come to the door to trick or
treat … and she ran out of candy. … In desperation, she began giving out quarters,
nickels, and dimes.
One little girl about 5-years-old, dressed as a fairy princess, … came to her door.
She had the little crown and wand and spangled dress. … Jones dropped two
quarters into the child’s sack and said to her: … “I’ve run out of candy but
tomorrow you can take these coins to the store and turn them into real candy.”
The little girl stepped back, … looked up at her and said: … “Lady, … this isn’t a
real wand!”
We know that Jesus died and was raised again so that He might be …
“the Lord both of the dead and of the living.” … So our obligation is to make Him
Lord of our lives.
Jesus is calling—softly and tenderly, He’s calling …
AMEN