It cannot have escaped your notice but, halloween is soon to be upon us. It seems you cannot enter a shop without being encouraged to buy costumes, sweets, scary signs and all other ‘essential’ supplies to celebrate this ‘festival’.
I am sure that I am not alone in finding this celebration a little disturbing.
I want to be careful not to sound like a grumpy old man, or just have a rant about the way the marketing people are using this to sell all manner of rubbish we don’t need! I sympathise with those parents who are trying to explain that they are unhappy with halloween, whilst their child sees their friends taking part. For our cousins across the pond (America), halloween has been a big deal for a long time. Sadly, however, this seems to be catching up in Britain. In my younger days (no, Victoria was not still on the throne!), halloween wasn’t really mentioned and trick or treating was unheard of.
So, why do I feel the way I do about halloween?
I really enjoyed my time in the West Midlands and, as our time there came to a close, our family went on an outing to the Black Country Living Museum. As part of the trip we went down a drift mine. I will never forget the experience. At one point, our guide turned out the all the lights. I have never experienced darkness like it before. The darkness felt oppressive, and all encompassing. It was frightening because it was so disorientating.
Our world can be a pretty dark place at times and whilst we don’t want our children to be ignorant of the real darkness out there, do we really want them to feel disorientated, oppressed or overwhelmed by it?
Just as I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the darkness in the mine, our guide did something interesting. He switched on a small light which, he explained, had the power of 1 candle. He explained that the miners would work with a single candle so, he wanted us to see what 1 candle power was like. The funny thing was, the darkness wasn’t so dark anymore. John, in his gospel says,
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1 vs. 5 – NRSV)
With just 1 candle light in the depth of the mine, the darkness wasn’t so powerful it had been overcome. Rather than celebrating the darkness, I think we should celebrate the light! Jesus described Himself as the light of the world and that, if we follow Him, we will not walk in the darkness but, have the light of life (see John 8 vs. 12).
One final thought.
To me, halloween seems to focus on death, decay, evil and revels in it. Again, we cannot be in ignorance that these things are in the world but, again, halloween sweeps aside the hope that we can find in Christ. I love these words from the Apostle Paul;
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (Philippians 4 vs. 8 – The Message)
Now, that is something worth celebrating!