So I'm having a halloween party. At church. For the kids who come to our children's group.
I know, I know, I'm evil right? Playing with dark forces, encouraging 'the dark side', being unholy or whatever. Trust me, I've heard it all this week. It's amazing how easy people find it to comment before hearing a single thing about it. What I've planned is a Christian event, and there's no arguing with the content - we'll be talking about bible stories; Adam and Eve with apple bobbing, Ezekiel 37 with skeleton games, Lazarus with mummy challenges, the armour of God, with halloween costumes and of course Jesus light of the world whilst carving pumpkins. There's no arguing that this is an overtly Christian event. But it seems none of the other ministers in the valley are interested in that. You see, it's the name that's evil, the connotations it has that are going to lead people astray.
But you see, I'm confused. And once again I find myself wondering if it's because I wasn't brought up in the church, but I just don't understand the logic behind burying our heads in the sand and trying to pretend that Halloween just doesn't exist. Is the hope that, if we never mention it to the kids who we're involved with, they'll just ignore it too? Or are we hoping that if we keep telling them not to do it, they just won't, despite the fact their friends are, their schools are, and in lots of cases their parents are encouraging them to? Well if that's our hope, then more fool us.
I've been told a lot over the past fortnight, that I'm not biblical, the having a party like this is directly going against God' word. And yet I look through my bible and what jumps out at me are all these stories about the people of God using culture and mythology to talk about who God is, stories about Jesus meeting people where they are, speaking to them in their language, using metaphors and images they understand.
By embracing halloween, explaining it's origins in All Hallows Eve, and allowing children to participate in this festival whilst injecting a Christian message into it, aren't we being more proactive against all this 'evil' stuff (unconvinced that the world is quite as dualist as my evangelical brothers and sisters in the valley tend to make out, but still) than ignoring it? Isn't this, too, meeting people where they're at, using culture and mythology to talk about who God is?
I don't know. Maybe I'm crazy, but I get the feeling that kids are going to hear about halloween one way or the other (unless we ban them from school, supermarkets, friends houses and tv for the next two weeks), and I'd rather address it at church and have another holiday in the Christian calendar, than do nothing and then condemn people when they get involved in it.
Seriously - how many of us will have decorated trees up both in our homes and in our churches this Christmas and not bat an eyelid at the pagan connotations? How many of us will buy Easter eggs and make shredded wheat nests with our kids at Easter and not for a second consider anything untoward? You know, Jesus spent a lot of his earthly ministry calling the religious leaders of the time hypocrites. Nuff Said.