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During the years that I served as a Pastor of Student Ministries, I had a definite love/hate relationship with October. One the one hand, students were back in the swing of things, and attendance usually was much more consistent. Yet football, other sports, homecomings, and a host of other activities made it very tough to keep the momentum going. The hardest thing for me to decide each fall was what to do with this mysterious 'holiday' called Halloween.
The Apostle Paul said:
"I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ." (I Corinthians 9:22)
My purpose in this devotion is not to make a statement about how you should or shouldn't feel about Halloween, rather to equip and resource you with information so that you can find 'common ground' with unbelievers and use October 31st as a way to help bring people to Christ, because this season typically brings a greater openness on the part of people to discuss spiritual issues- so why not take advantage of these two factors to get the Message to the lost?
One of the biggest problems we face is the enormous amount of misinformation put out by well meaning believers who have 'researched' this topic at an elementary school level or below. So first off, let's try and make some sense out of the loony tunes literature floating around regarding the history behind Halloween.
In North America, the yearly observance of Halloween amounts to a multi-billion-dollar industry, second only to Christmas...selling costumes, candy and food items, party supplies, greeting cards, tours of so-called haunted houses, and other forms of entertainment. But what is the history of this particular day? The story may surprise you.
The Celts believed that on this night the barrier between the natural world and the supernatural was removed, and the spirits of the dead were able to move freely among human beings. Samhain was the most solemn and important night in the Celtic year.
The "trick-or-treat" custom we know today is thoroughly American in origin. In the nineteenth century, when Irish and Scotch immigrants brought their Halloween traditions to North America, the night became an occasion for pranks and mischief. Vandals would go through the night, soaping windows, overturning outhouses, and pulling gates from their hinges. These pranks were playfully said to be the work of witches and ghosts, but by the 1920s the joke wasn't funny anymore. The damage to neighborhoods was mounting.
To counteract Halloween vandalism, community clubs like the Boy Scouts began to organize alternatives that are safe and fun. Children were encouraged to go door-to-door and receive treats from homeowners and merchants, keeping the troublemakers away. By the 1930s, the practice was popular nationwide, and young voices crying, "Trick or treat!" were echoing through neighborhood streets.
In this way, a combination of pagan, Christian, and civic elements formed the Halloween celebration we know today. In recent decades, however, a renewed interest in the old pagan beliefs has blossomed in North America. Popular entertainment, including television shows like "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer," and even "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," make occult themes and witchcraft seem fun and acceptable. The result is that Halloween today has become strongly associated with the occult and a preoccupation with the dead—two influences that Scripture and the church have always warned against. (source: http://www.october31st.org/)
So now that you know the skinny on this scary day, how can we use this odd celebration to introduce people to the Savior? Here are three suggestions:
Above all, use this day as a reminder that your eternal destiny is secure- and evil cannot touch you. The Apostle Paul informs us that:
"God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ." (Colossians 2:14)
To me, all the wacky symbols and gory costumes are visible evidences that one day Jesus is coming back to make things right. In heaven we will be treated to a universe free from all pain and suffering- and that's no trick.
Dare 2 Share is a church assisting ministry that provides resources for youth leaders and equips teens to relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ. Over 1,400 of these resources are provided completely FREE! D2S also conducts nationwide youth evangelism training conferences. The events are structured for students in junior high and high school, ranging from 12 to 18 years old. Regardless of gender or denomination, D2S teaches from a Christian perspective. D2S is based in Denver, Colorado and has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 teens since 1991.
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