Well Halloween has come and gone and I am grateful that this year I heard far less “alarmist” Christian Halloween talk than I have in years previous. Maybe it was the distraction of the coming presidential election that kept most evangelicals from thinking about the ‘horrors’ of Halloween, but this year I didn’t hear anyone talking about burning Harry Potter books, or praying against Satan, or dressing their children up as Bible characters.
This year, instead of absenting ourselves from a so-called “pagan” holiday, our church had a community festival. That’s right. On October 31st, All Hallows Eve, Surfside Presbyterian Church had blow-up games and dunking booths. We gave out candy and had a box maze and a pie eating contest and all kinds of kids and parents came and dressed up like princesses and superheroes and some even dressed up like monsters. It was a great time for all and a blessing to our community here in south Myrtle Beach. I thought it was great.
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I don’t know why really. It just has. My childhood memories are filled with bags of candy and Charlie Brown’s “The Great Pumpkin”. I loved it…and I still do. As a matter of fact, out of all the American Holidays, I think that Halloween may be the best at exemplifying the Grace of Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at it.
On all Hallows Eve, people disguise themselves, dress up like monsters, and go up to a door with an empty bag. They knock on the door and hold out the bag and a neighbor opens the door. The person smiles and says, “Wow, you’re scary! Who are you? Are you a Vampire?” The little kid nods. Then the neighbor laughs and gives the child encouragement, and pours candy into their empty satchel. Doesn’t that sound like the Gospel? It does to me.
The Gospel says that we are all evil monsters who have nothing to offer anyone. We are poor and empty and hiding, walking around begging for someone to fill our empty hearts. Jesus moves into our neighborhood and bids us come in to sup with Him. We knock on Christ’s door and He opens up His home and His heart. “Wow, you’re scary! Who are you?” Jesus asks. “I’m a Vampire. I’m a Witch. I’m a Monster,” we say behind our masks. Then, by the power of the Gospel, Jesus calls us out of hiding. He forgives us, and heals us, and fills our hearts with the Grace of Christ, not because we deserve it or because we’re cute, but because we really are monsters who desperately the gift of his mercy.
That’s why Halloween is a great picture of the Gospel. It’s a picture of me going to Jesus. Empty, evil, desperate, hiding; and receiving gifts that I cannot buy, and love that I cannot earn. That’s why, at my house, we call Halloween by it’s appropriate name – “Grace Night: A night for monsters to come out of hiding.” For years, this is what I have taught my children. They don’t know that Halloween is a night for “pagan Satan worship”. They think it’s a night to worship Jesus. A night to remember the Grace that we have been given and a night to give Jesus thanks for welcoming Vampires and Witches and Monsters into His loving arms. And all we need to receive His grace is a beggars’ desperate posture.
So next year, when October 31st rolls around, be sure to dress your worst and go door to door begging for candy. Just remember, it’s not Halloween. It’s Grace Night. Don’t forget to bring an empty bag.