Saturday, October 29, 2016

Trick or Treat

by Tim Howard

We’re coming upon two very important days of the year. Halloween–when we scare people for fun, and Election Day–when we scare people for real. Let’s not talk about the elections! Let’s focus on Halloween.

Retailers love Halloween. Maybe it’s because their cash registers are receiving an average of $75 to $80 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards. I’ve read that Halloween will bring in approximately $8 billion this year.

Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday and many who celebrate have no concept of its religious origins or pagan heritage. The roots of this holiday are connected to the remembrance of those who were martyred for their faith in Christ and the confrontation with indigenous pagan rituals found in Europe years and years ago.

The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids whose major focus was on the dark side of life. Their imagery of death–symbolized by skeletons, skulls, and the color black–remains prominent in today's Halloween celebrations and is a personification of an evil presence.

Many of the costumes chosen to wear on Oct. 31–Unknowingly are connected to a long history. You will see children dressed as villains, gangsters, hoodlums, zombies and many other outfits that represent the dark and evil side of life. On the other hand, many kids will dress as Superman, Spiderman and a plethora of other characters to represent those who stand for good! You may even see some Princes and Princesses!

I was brought up in a family that viewed life through Christian lenses and understood that every holiday is significant in some way. Many who hold to this same view of life refuse to participate in Halloween. Some are wary of its pagan origins; others of its dark, ghoulish imagery and still others are concerned for the safety of their children.

My parents didn’t forbid us to join in on the celebration but they did use Halloween to teach us about the battle between good and evil because they understood the origins. They told us that evil is real and is made up of witches, demons and the Devil. They also said there is a very real world in which good triumphs over evil–made up of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and those who follow Him.

They went on to say: “We are a family that stands for good and as we enjoy Halloween we will be dressing in such a way that good is exalted over evil.”

Years later I realized they had made a decision like Joshua in the Old Testament, when he said: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

The Apostles Paul said: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” In other words–You don’t need to fear evil or run from darkness–you overcome it by doing good.

Jesus has conquered death, hell and the grave! Therefore, while talking about ghosts and goblins, witches and warlocks is anything but fantasy–there is no need to fear or retreat–because Jesus is the victor.

Jesus said to his followers–you are a light in the world that shines in the midst of darkness and can actually diffuse that darkness if you shine. Simply put: The darker the night–the brighter the light! 

I will enjoy Halloween with my grandson and will probably eat too much of ‘his’ candy–but not without encouraging him to be a light in darkness and giving him some history on this holiday.

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