I've read dozens of articles about Halloween, harvest celebrations, and fall festivals. It seems that Christendom is greatly divided over these issues. Is there a definitive answer to what is right and what is wrong? I'll be honest: I used to think so, but now my answer is different than it once was.
I do not celebrate Halloween, nor will our children. That is because it is a day that has no root in Christianity and much of what happens on it seems innocent but is rooted in traditions that have nothing to do with God or good. I cannot and will not support this day. Perhaps my strong feelings come from my experiences with the darker side of Halloween and others without this experience will not feel as passionately as I about this issue.
However, I do know that the Bible clearly says that light has no fellowship with darkness, we are to come out from the world and not be of it, and that we are not to be a part of all that it has to offer. I don't think of my choice as legalistic, nor is it being bound up by fear instead of walking in freedom. It is a conviction placed on my heart by the Holy Spirit and I am accountable for my obedience.
What about taking the kids to a Harvest Party? Again, totally not a fan. And not because I think that the harvest is inherently evil, but because of the double standard it sends to my young children. "OK, kids, we are not going to dress up and Trick-or-Treat because Halloween is not a day that glorifies God and we shouldn't take part in it ... but let's dress up and go get candy on a church property. As long as it's at a religious institution and not in our neighborhoods it's not compromise or sin; it's fine!"
Really??? I don't see that as setting a solid example.
It's communicating to our children that simply because we don't want them to miss out on a fun experience we are going to create a "Christian" version of it for them.
We have never been called to imitate the world, nor have the children of God been called to re-create an invention of the enemy. Satan is not the enemy of God, but he is the enemy of the children of God. He has been trying to entice us to compromise since the beginning of time. GOD is the Creator, and He has created all good things that we need for life and godliness.
BUT ... I do see Fall Festivals as being potentially beautiful things! It is a night when we can open the doors of the church, have loving people milling around ready to talk to and serve those who show up, and witness to those who might otherwise never be open to appearing at a place of worship. It can be an opportunity to minister, to pray, to build relationships, and to reach out to people. After all, people are the heartbeat of God. However, it needs to be done in the right way. If the focus is simply entertaining children, fellowshipping with friends, and creating a "Christian" experience for a worldly holiday then we have missed the opportunity given to us.
I was blessed to be a part of a church that I believe caught the heart of God and used innovation and inspiration to reach their community when I first started out in ministry. This body of believers opened the doors of the church and had games, dances, skits and more on the inside. Outside there were tables with hot apple cider and hot cocoa. This church was in its neighborhood, reaching out to the people who lived around it (a beautiful thing, and a message all on its own for another blog!). It met the needs of its people in a practical way and afforded those of us ministering a wau to touch and talk with many, many people who never came on a Sunday. We weren't there to talk to each other, to give our kids a pseudo-Halloween, or to compromise our standards in a way that removed feelings of guilt. Our purpose was to REACH OUT.
If a festival is done in such a way that it affords the people of God an avenue to reach out to those loved by the Father but who do not know Him, it is a tremendous opportunity. However, in spite of this, many churches focus on bigger being better and get the numbers ... but never reach the souls. That breaks my heart, and I'm sure the heart of the Father is waiting for us to catch a bigger vision than we already have.
As for as me and my house, well ... until our children are old enough to understand the difference between a compromise in standards and reaching out, we are going to sit out. I believe there will be a day (and soon!) that God will show us practical ways to use this day as we do others to reach out to those in our neighborhood. I anticipate it with joy and am even now praying for next year when we might be able to put feet to the ideas in our hearts.
What do you think?