Holy Halloween

Holy Halloween

It's that time year again, the shops are decorated orange and black, pumpkins fill the supermarkets and you've perhaps been invited to a fancy-dress party. How should Christians respond to the Halloween hype?

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Joshua Jones

Joshua Jones

Joshua and Irdi Jones have been working among the youth and University students of Europe for over 10 years. "Northern Fires" is the vision of discipling young adults in Northern European countries which are often more "church rich" and mobilising them into gospel focused outreach in Southern Europe and throughout the world. They work as part of the World Horizons family and pastor a church near Royston.

Joshua blogs over at Sanity's Cove.

Streams

The Big Story #6: God's Church

The Big Story #6: God's Church

Rounding off our big Bible overview we look to the conclusion of the story and what we need to do to get there. God has chosen us to play a part in it, but how? What does it mean to be God's church?

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The Big Story #5: God's Son

The Big Story #5: God's Son

It all points to Him, everything that had come before, the promises, the prophecies, the people. Here we reach the climax of God's story in a person, God's son, Jesus Christ. We don't understand him until we see how he fits into what's come before.

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The Big Story #3: God's Kingdom

The Big Story #3: God's Kingdom

Look around the world and we see kings, presidents, leaders who are very much flawed. Israel had a king - God, but they wanted a human king. We look at how that worked out for God's people.

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The Big Story #2: God's People

The Big Story #2: God's People

God's story is both cosmic in scope and intimate in care, we see that as he chose to fulfil his purposes in a family. But why did God choose Abraham and the people of Israel to be the ones who would be a blessing to the whole world?

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Holy Halloween

Once again the Halloween season is upon us and the Facebook debates are over whether Christians should celebrate are warming up. Usually, these posts – both for and against – show a surprising lack of understanding of the holiday’s Christian roots.

The devil would love to steal Halloween away from Christians. He is making good progress at it too.

All Hollow’s Eve (Halloween) is neither American nor pagan in heritage. The name should be obvious enough. Hallow means ‘holy’ (‘Hallowed be thy name’) and it marks a three-day celebration of the victory of Jesus over the powers of darkness as experienced by departed saints and Christian martyrs - with November 1st being All Saints Day. These type of celebrations have happened since the 300’s AD and the date became formalised on the Church calendar in 835 AD by Pope Gregory.

Traditionally, this holy day was a time to remember Christ’s victory over darkness and to remember that we still have to battle against evil. As St. Paul writes in Ephesians 6, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

How have Christians historically celebrated this? By joyful mockery. Satan has lost his final victory, is a defeated foe and nothing pushes back his minions like Christian joy. It is from this tradition that people draw silly pictures of the devil and let their kids dress up as ghosts to show that he can no longer dominate the redeemed people of God - we no longer need to be afraid. Historically, Christians would even burn the costumes afterwards.

Halloween is also a historic occasion for friendship. Though sweets (candy) is abundant and cheap today, in previous centuries, giving these small gifts to children was more costly and an act of true Christian generosity.

Now common sense tells you that if it's a turd - don't try to polish it. But Christians are a redeemed people and as such we have a cheeky tendency to alchemise the culture around us - make once wicked things into trophies for our God. We did this with Christmas and Easter when we hijacked them from the ancient pagans and gave them Jesus centred meanings. But now pagans and the commercial industry is trying to hijack Halloween – a holiday that actually started out Christian. They try to claim associations with ancient Celtic Harvest days. They want to change it into a day of celebrating the powers of darkness over the powers of light. Unfortunately, some Christians are unaware of their own roots and have let the pagans think for them.

Letting let the pagans and mainstream commercial society have our day shows a certain type of insane cowardice. We Christians are retreating from a holiday that was once wholly ours. Let's reclaim the victorious and hospitable traditions of the past and teach the children around us that through Christ's death and resurrection, we no longer need to be afraid.

May we celebrate Christ's victory - until he returns for all his Hallows.

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