Sunday, October 30, 2011

Celebrating Halloween as Faithful Christian Witness

A while back I shared a piece entitled "Halloween is Christian - Wonderfully So!" by Shannon Johnston (who is now the Bishop of Virginia, but was the rector of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Tupelo, Mississippi when the piece was first written). Turning to the Church's liturgical calendar, Bishop Johnston connects Halloween to All Saints' Day and the truth of Christian baptism, summing it all up like this:

Halloween is the time when Christians proclaim and celebrate the fact that Satan and the occult have no power over us and cannot disrupt our relationship with our Lord and Redeemer, as long as we live faithfully to Christ. We show this by making fun of such pretenders, lampooning them in their face. This is why our costumes and decorations certainly should be witches, devils, and ghosts. In the victory of Christ, Christians are privileged to do this and we must not be timid about it!

Bishop Johnston's piece is a fitting response to those who insist that Halloween is Satanic and that Christians should therefore shun it. Quite the contrary, Halloween is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to bear witness to the heart of our faith in a risen Lord.

I recently came across some reflections on Halloween by an Orthodox Christian that complement Bishop Johnston's thoughts very well:

Every year, on Hallowe’en, I sit on the front porch of my house with a bowl of candy, a box of beeswax candles, and a large icon for the Feast of All Saints.

Every child who comes to the house gets a piece of candy, and may also light a candle and place it before the icon. Very few kids (even the jaded teenagers) turn down the opportunity.

For those who ask, I tell them that the meaning of the word “Hallowe’en” is “the eve of the Feast of All Saints”.

If they press me on the point, I tell them that they can think of the true meaning of Hallowe’en as being that, because of Christ, they can dress up like ghosts and goblins and whatnot, because we do not need to fear those things any longer.

I wish I had a few photos of the kids in Satan masks, lighting a candle and placing it before the icon…

I love the idea of lighting candles to place before an icon for the Feast of All Saints. And I'm now more pleased than ever that my 8-year-old son plans to dress up for Halloween this year as the Grim Reaper!

A comment at another blog sums it all up nicely: "Death is real. The body will rise. And Christ mocks Hell."

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