Well, this is weird. It is Sunday morning and I am not at church! What is that all about, Pastor Greenbean? Well, the hot water heater is not making hot water. It did this yesterday, and the guy came and fixed it, but it looks like he didn’t. So us Greenbeans smell bad this morning and it sounds very spiritual, or at least Levitical, to not go to church when you are unclean. So, that gives me time to write tomorrow’s blog today. Lucky you.
Because I am not actively involved in church ministry right now, I am able to look at other churches with a little bit of a learning eye and what I see is that there are two types of approaches churches make toward Halloween. Let’s call them Type A and Type B.
The Type A church sees Halloween as a cultural phenomena that blends with the seasonal changes. These churches often have pumpkin patch trips with children and families and will usually have something like a fall carnival, often called Fall Festival. These churches may or may not have their activities planned actually on Halloween.
The Type B church hates Halloween and views it as a frightening spiritual counter-attack to the gospel. These churches either avoid Halloween altogether, or, if they do engage in Halloween activities, it is always billed as an ‘alternative’ to Halloween. These are the churches that go to “Hell Houses,” which are weird evangelistic haunted houses that try to frighten people into loving Jesus, because fear always works.
Guess which one I am? Am I a Type A or Type B?
Here is the answer–I am a little bit of both. My inner Mr. Rogers really thinks churches do better with pumpkin patches and cake walks than botched abortions and drunk driving tableaus. However, I am also a little frightened by Halloween. Something about it does not sit well with me and I’ve never really understood why. Halloween usually finds me on edge and waiting for sunrise on November 1 when I can celebrate All Saints Day. Some of my more reformed friends always encourage me that it is not Halloween but instead Reformation Day and I should see it that way. The problem is that no one dresses up as Martin Luther on October 31. They dress up as the devil.
What I’ve come to embrace over the years, mainly with recovery help from my wonderful family, is that I fear Halloween for irrational reasons, but fear is not the substance of faith. Would Jesus be afraid of Halloween? I think not. Instead, he would transform it by his celebratory presence. So that is why in practice I am really more of a fall festival-kind-of-guy than a hand-out-gospel-tracts-instead-candy kind of guy. But if you do hand out gospel tracts, for the love of all that is good and decent at least give it along with full size candy bars.
SOME OTHER HALLOWEEN POSTS
MY HALLOWEEN THEMED SHORT STORY