Those pagan kids

October 22nd, 2015

I recently read a Facebook post from someone upset that so many churches were celebrating that “pagan” holiday, Halloween. This irritation is as perennial as church pumpkin patch fundraisers. Some suggest that churches are bowing to culture and diluting Christ’s Gospel, or that celebrating Halloween crosses an idolatrous border. It is true that Halloween isn’t found in Scripture, but neither are Mother’s Day, Independence Day or Ash Wednesday.

And even though ringing someone’s doorbell dressed as the Great Pumpkin in order to get a bag full of a dentist’s worst nightmare doesn’t quite express the gospel story, Halloween does have roots in the Christian tradition.

All Hallow’s Eve (October 31) and All Saints Day (November 1) is one day (sunset to sunset) set apart to celebrate the lives of the saints who have revealed God’s beauty. The evening is usually reserved for official saints of the church with the morning devoted to remembering all of our brothers and sisters who have died. I would agree that dressing up like a sexy nurse or a brain-hungry zombie misses the reason for the season, but in banning Halloween or pretending that it doesn’t happen or shunning the children who do knock on your door (when was the last time children rang your doorbell without selling cookie dough or wrapping paper?), we miss an opportunity renarrate a culture begging to share in God’s story.

So keep the lights on, carve a pumpkin, wrap up snack-sized bags of popcorn and offer hospitality to those who need it most. Here’s a thought. Why not say a prayer for every new family you meet? Why not wear your church T-shirt while handing out taffy? Why not go all out and fire up the grill to make mini-hot dogs for those who stop by? It’s better for their teeth, and it would take breaking bread with your neighbor to a new, awesome place.

Or you could keep your lights off, call them pagans, and get angry about it on Facebook. That’s probably how Jesus would have done it.

Matt Rawle blogs at He is the author of The Salvation of Doctor Who, The Faith of a Mockingbird and Hollywood Jesus.

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