The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

October 26, 2013

INSTANT MESSAGE: The Church has reclaimed Halloween

Palestine Herald-Press

1 Corinthians 9: 21-23 (NIV): 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Halloween is short for "All Hallows (Holy) Day Evening". In Western (Catholic) society, it began as the evening before a holy day – a holiday to celebrate Christians who have gone to be with the Lord. Worldly influences (including Druids) nearly hijacked it and caused it to become something evil instead of something good. But we never have to think of Halloween as being evil.

It didn't begin that way and it is only evil if we make it so.

The church struggled with this for much of my life, but practicality won the day. Christians realized that Halloween was an opportunity to get people to come to the church.

They could offer fun events and families could come and get loads of candy, have fun, maybe get a chili dog or some other goodie. And churches did this right, with hay rides, fun events for the kids, candy and treats, all in a safe and controlled environment. More treats per minute and a lot less effort than trick-or-treating.

And people did come. Year after year. Now, the church has retaken Halloween.

This is such a wonderful time of year: cooler weather, football, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, turning leaves. And yes, decorations and costumes. But I've noticed that Halloween is now less and less about horror and more and more about harvest. The church has earned the right to influence the holiday by choosing to embrace it and, like Paul in today’s passage, use it for spreading the Gospel. Halloween is now firmly set as a family holiday. I'm glad Halloween is back where it began and where it belongs.

On a personal note, I will be at Blaser’s Books downtown today during The Hot Pepper Festival autographing copies of my fiction novel, “The Dead Peasants File.” I hope you will come by to see me.