Saturday, October 31, 2015

Another Halloween Post.

It seems like the pro-Halloween articles multiply exponentially every year.

As for me and my house, we’re still not doing Halloween.

It’s not because we don’t believe in “fun” or dress-up. We do that to some degree about 80% of the days of the year. Myself included.

It isn’t because we are anti-evangelistic or are against being missional. We have developed and nurture relationships with non-Christian (and marginally Christian) neighbors and community members.

I'm not anti-culture. Tomorrow's my birthday. My presents are on the table in the dining room wrapped in Stars Wars paper. I wish I could be in Taos for their jazz festival at the end of November honoring the late Frank Morgan. I love listening to Frank Morgan. I will watch college football this afternoon. Culture rocks.

Yes, I’ve seen the dozen articles that argue Halloween to be a “Christian holiday.” Here’s the thing about that: Martin Luther.

You see, I admit only one Christian holiday, strictly speaking: the Lord’s Day. Happens every week. Any other day I choose to have any involvement with is not because the Roman Catholic Church has declared it a holiday. I’m not Roman Catholic. 498 years ago today, Martin Luther unknowingly fired the first figurative shot of the Protestant Reformation. So, not only do I not observe Halloween (or All Hallows’ Eve), but I also don’t observe All Saints’ Day. I’m in the Southwest U.S. I don’t observe El Día de los Muerto, either. I don’t go to Mass. Don’t do Ash Wednesday. Don’t do saints’ feast days. I am, by my convictions from the Bible and historical inheritance from the Protestant Reformation, decidedly and annoyingly thrilled to be a Baptist.

So, no. I don’t think Halloween is “Christian.”[1] If we wanted to observe it, we would be free to by our convictions. No “Church” has told us to or told us not to.

Your kids sure are adorable in their costumes, and I love seeing the pictures. I’ve got my Santa Claus hat on right now, both to keep my ears warm and because we put our Christmas tree up last night. Because we can. That may seem weird, but lots of people will paint their faces as skulls or zombies or whatever today. I think that’s weird.

For us, it was Christmas lights, The Polar Express, the first fireplace fire of the season, and cocoa last night. Not because it was a “Christian holiday,” but because we wanted to. I don’t share this with my kids (maybe I should), but I cannonball dive into enough darkness in other people’s lives during the year as their pastor, trying by the grace of God to fulfill Galatians 6:2 in love. I don’t need to make darkness a comic and play with it tonight. Some people might find release in doing so. Not me. Children’s funerals, spousal infidelity, aging issues, addictions, and just plain old run-of-the-mill depression are enough for me. I am haunted enough and praying for countless spiritually dead people – pretend hauntings and the undead aren’t fun to me. So this is the confession: I might not be primarily sheltering my children (though, as my wife says, I wouldn’t let them watch a horror movie, so why would I open the door to a stranger with a bloody axe in his head?). It could be that I am choosing against the play-acting darkness because I’ve seen enough this year in the lives of people I love and shepherd. I don’t need or want any more. The phone could ring at any moment. I’ll seek my “fun” elsewhere.

Maybe I’ll grow out of it. Probably not. I don’t have to. Martin Luther. This is Reformation Day. I am freed from the Roman Catholic calendar, and bound only (in my theological tradition) to the Lord’s Day. Whatever else I choose to participate in is in Christian liberty of conscience (Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 ought to have some bearing on how we treat each other on days like this).

My Christmas tree’s up. Earlier than ever this year. It’s not a “Christian” tree. It’s a fun, light, sweet thing that’s now a little funnier and quirkier because we did it on Halloween Eve (All Hallows’ Eve, Eve?).

So I’m going to be just as fun-loving (I do love fun) and “missional” (the word used to guilt non-participating Christians into Halloween-ing) today as I was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Not because a day is “Christian,” but because I am, and this is what I am called to do every day wherever I am and in whatever I’m doing.

Let me finish with my favorite of Luther’s 95 Theses, number 62: “The true treasure of the Church is the most holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.”
House decorated for Halloween, costume ready, coffee good.

[1] Of course, there is the sense in which all things are Christian, since they were created through Christ (John 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 8:7; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2) and are maintained at every moment by Christ (Hebrews 1:3).

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