I am one of the most conservative parents I know. In our house, we don’t do sleepovers, two-piece swim suits or even the word “stupid.” I run a pretty tight ship on my children’s godly innocence.
Which is why it might surprise you that this time of year, I shine a green light on trick-or-treating. In fact I don’t just allow it; I gladly lead the charge.
First of all, please understand my intention is not to sway you. We all maintain our own convictions on how to live out this Christian life, and if trick-or-treating is a line you won’t cross, I applaud you.
Yet before you judge me for making a different decision, I’d like to share my own convictions in this area. Here are some reasons to consider encouraging trick-or-treating through the neighborhood.
Outreach. Several years ago, when my eldest was small, we skipped trick-or-treating—once. And that experience showed me why I will never skip it again. Our neighbors, with whom we have a friendly rapport yet not exactly close relationships, sought us out to ask WHY we hadn’t come to their door that year. “We waited for you! We were so looking forward to seeing you! We missed you!” they said. And right there I realized my casual dismissal of candy collecting was actually a missed opportunity for witnessing.
We’re all called to build relationships with the people around us, to share the light and love of Christ with those who are lost. Do you realize that the family who goes all out for Halloween—the one who claims it’s their favorite “holiday” and who decorates their front yard with scary skeletons and grave stones, which everything in me wants to run away from—these people might actually be the ones who need Jesus most? So instead of running away, I choose to run toward them, and trick-or-treating gives me and my family a built-in opportunity—an open invitation, in fact—to knock on their door and establish a connection.
Over the years I’ve seen tons of great ideas for infusing an intentional touch of faith into the trick-or-treating hype. One house we visited donated a dollar to missions for every child who stopped at their door. Recently I found a yard sign that says, “The only ghost that lives here is the Holy Ghost.” And last year I created these Pumpkin Gospel Tags to attach to each piece of candy. Why not take full advantage of the fact that trick-or-treating connects us with souls from throughout the neighborhood? Let’s bring light into the darkness, just as Jesus did.
Family togetherness. In our family, we have costume rules. No ghosts, no devils, no witches and nothing gross or scary. Philippians 4:8 still reigns. But beyond that, we have a blast devising a family costume theme every year. We’ve been a team of superheroes, cops and robbers, zoo animals and zookeepers, and this year we’re excited to parade around town as characters from Toy Story: Jessie, Buzz Lightyear, and—hilarious fun—Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (that’s my hubby and me). And, our girls are determined to transform our puppy into Slinky Dog.
The fall season has been crazy busy with sports and homework, work and ministry commitments. Trick-or-treating is an opportunity to take the night off from the usual routine and make sweet memories as a family. As parents we can take ourselves too seriously sometimes, don’t you think? It’s impossible to do that when you’re wearing a Mrs. Potato Head hat. And I’m grateful.
Historical significance. Did you know Halloween originated as a Christian holiday? The name “Halloween” comes from All Saints Day, a day of celebration in the early church when believers remembered the martyrs who had gone before them. All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day, was the start of the remembrance. “All Hallows Eve” eventually shortened to “Halloween.”
As Christianity spread throughout Europe, it met with a variety of pagan cultures that eventually absorbed “All Hallows Eve” as their own. But it’s important to remember the day “Halloween” was initially a God-honoring occasion. For a full explanation of the history, as well as a balanced exploration of how Christians ought to respond, I love this article by Travis Allen on John MacArthur’s site, Grace to You.
Of course I realize there are many ungodly people who celebrate evil and claim Halloween as their day to reign. And that hurts my heart, as it should hurt anyone whose chains are gone thanks to Jesus. But it’s also all the more reason to combat the darkness with light. My family chooses to do that not by hiding behind closed doors but by pushing into the night and sharing the love of Jesus with our smiles, laughter, friendly greetings and departing words, “God’s blessings to you!”
It can’t hurt. It can only help.
And when the day is done, I breathe a sigh of relief that all those creepy yard decorations will be a thing of the past for another year. But until then, I’ve got a light inside me. And I’m a-gonna let it shine.
This post first appeared on TheCourage.
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