Please don't read the title of this blog as

arrogant--my life is worth living because of something

much greater than me. While I have been richly blessed,

I am definitely not free of trouble, pain, or stress.

But I know through it all that life is still worth

living. Through this blog I hope to walk through

life with you... (and hopefully hone some book ideas.)

Thanks for joining in the journey!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why we will celebrate Halloween today

Before I dive in to today's post let me first say that my views are in no way meant to compel you to respond in a similar way. If you disagree with me before reading this post and still disagree with me after reading it, no problem. I am convinced that God speaks to different people in different ways about disputable issues. There are some things he is clear on, but the topic of this post is most definitely a disputable issue that is open to personal interpretation. For a more fleshed out explanation of that view take a look at a post I wrote a year or so ago called Join me for a glass of Cabernet? Whatever you decide to do, today my family and I will be celebrating Halloween.

The views on Halloween are diverse throughout the Christian religion. Parts of the Church highlight the Christian origins of the day and its ties to the All Saint's Day commemoration of the departed saints who have gone on before us. Other segments of the Church focus on the pagan origins of the celebration and its ties to a more humanistic ideology. Then other groups see ties to the occult and thereby view the day as off-limits. I respect each of those points of view and encourage people to examine their own understanding in the light of Scripture and make their opinions and decisions accordingly.

The reason we are going to take part in the Halloween festivities is because of the message of redemption it is able to point to. Tonight RockHarbor Fullerton is going to be hosting our second annual, Trunk 'n Treat. It is an opportunity for us to engage our community with dozens of decorated cars filled with candy for kids to come enjoy. I love that! I love that it sends out the message that our church isn't going to hide out from culture and avoid interacting with people. And since there is no way that we will be compromising our integrity to do so, why wouldn't we want to?

What kind of a message does it convey if we tell people around us who don't share our religious views that kids dressed up like Winnie the Pooh getting mini-Snickers bars is evil? Drawing a hard line around Halloween in my opinion marginalizes people by telling them that they aren't as holy as we are. It also conveys the message that if they do trick or treat or carve pumpkins that God would respond with rejection or displeasure. God loves people. I'll even take it an additional controversial step... God loves sinners. (As if there is any difference.)

I recently read a book called Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church by Soong-Chan Rah in which he points out the fallacy of dividing things into sacred and secular camps. He tells his audience that he had been writing the book during the Christmas season. During that time his wife and children had done a stellar job in decorating the house with a beautiful Christmas tree, holly, mistletoe, etc. Then he started taking note of all the pagan influences that have shaped our various Christmas traditions. For one, it is highly unlikely that Jesus would have been born on December 25th, or even in the winter at all. The chosen date is attributed more to Celtic celebrations of the winter solstice, another pagan festival called Saturnalia, and the Roman celebration of Mithra. The date was chosen by the church to in some ways redeem the day and Christianize it. Rah then makes a few interesting comments: "If I were to examine all the evidence presented on the pagan origins of Christmas, I may never want to celebrate this holiday again... how can we taint a holy celebration like the birth of Jesus with unholy symbols? How can we take something pagan, sinful, and unholy and make it into something good? What business does God have in taking something unholy and sinful and making it into something holy and good?" The intended irony in Rah's questions is intentional. Taking unholy stuff and transforming it into beautiful objects of his glory is the very message of the Biblical story and the mission and heart of God!

So tonight we are going to going to celebrate with our neighbors. We are going to reach out to our community and let them know that we love them and want to embrace them. My hope and prayer is that today and every day our community would be one that shares the redemptive story of God's passionate love for all people that we engage. If that happens at Trunk 'n' Treat, it will indeed be a holy night!

1 comment:

Kim said...

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! (Nice post...I appreciate an open mind and thoughtfulness.)