I’m not one who hates Halloween and everything about it. I don’t love it, but I don’t condemn people who celebrate it. Honestly, I treat it pretty much like all other secularized holidays, which is to say that I don’t pay it much mind at all. Like Christmas, Halloween has origins in a mixture of pagan rituals and Catholic religious ceremony. I think that — while we’re too often guilty of giving in to the commercialization of Christmas and other holidays — Christians have done a reasonable job of using the Christmas holiday as an excellent opportunity to share the gospel. If Halloween can become another chance to introduce people to Jesus, then I’m all for it.
So I’m not inherently opposed to various church functions like what our church is doing tonight, if Jesus is made known. Unfortunately, many church “Halloween” functions (though often going by a different name) do little to separate themselves from what the world offers, becoming simply an alternate location for kids to get candy. Is this an effective way to share the gospel? I imagine it will depend on how each individual event is conducted.
What I do wish churches would emphasize more is the fact that October 31 is a day worthy of celebrating! It is the anniversary of one of the most significant events in church history. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, thus setting off the Protestant Reformation. The entire story surrounding the Reformation is fascinating, and something that churches and parents really should be teaching our children!
So, maybe instead of candy, families can celebrate Reformation Day by reading a story about Martin Luther, or about some of the other great men of God from that era. There are plenty of good, short, child’s-level books published on the subject (here’s a good place to start). For those who struggle to gather families around a good book for story time, why not watch a movie? A few years ago, an excellent film about the life of Martin Luther was made. It’s called simply Luther, and it’s available to be checked out at Stevens Street’s Learner Resource Center (located in Building D). Highly recommended! Here’s a clip:
Here are a few links to some good Halloween/Reformation Day resources:
Jesus Is Not Afraid of Halloween — A helpful article from Ministry-to-Children.com about how Halloween can become a door for sharing gospel truth with kids.
Making Peace With Halloween — Testimony of a former Halloween-hater.
The Unquenchable Flame — My review of what I believe to be the best introduction to church history. It covers all the major events and players without getting bogged down in minutiae. A quick and fascinating read!
Martin Luther: Reluctant Revolutionary — PBS has posted an entire 1-hour special on the life of Martin Luther on YouTube.