Christmas, Powered by the Holy Spirit

dove-object-black2

dove-object-black2 (Photo credit: knowhimonline)

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18

We are considering taking down our Christmas decorations today or tomorrow, all of the gifts are open and lying around the house, and leftovers are chilling in the fridge. Today is December 27th and Christmas is over. It is always a whirl wind, that began in November. Every year we try to keep the meaning of the celebration in our hearts, but our attention is often loss to our societies Christmas traditions.

The opening to Matthew’s Gospel gets to the point quickly. Jesus was not just another teacher of the law, he wasn’t a charismatic speaker (in fact, many of his sermons ran people off), nor was he just a prophet who performed many miracles. Matthew informs us that Jesus came to earth not by the consummation of Mary and Joseph’s marriage, but by the work of the Holy Spirit

Christmas lights 2010

Christmas lights 2010 Source wikipedia.org

This may have seemed odd to those around Mary and Joseph. I would imagine few believed them; after all, it took a visit from an angel for Joseph to believe. But Jesus’ miraculous conception is just as important to his ministry’s work as his eventual death on the cross. Had Jesus been born the son of Joseph and not of God, his death would not have been the sacrifice that redeemed mankind from our rebellion. Jesus’ conception MUST be the direct work of God or he would have been born into the same debt if rebellion we all are. His very flesh would have been tainted by the blemishes caused by sin.

Jesus’ carnal body was the result of God’s work. In fact, the entire process of salvation has and must be orchestrated by God. We in our sinful state are so far from God that without his intervention we would stay lost in our sins. But God’s love for us is so great he sent his Son to earth by the consummation of humanity and the Holy Spirit to be light in the darkness. Jesus came to light the way for mankind’s hearts to God. He came so that we might know God as our father.

Christmas may be over, but for those of us who are disciples of Jesus celebrate God’s plan of salvation all year. Without the miracle of his birth his death on the cross would not have resulted in his resurrection, and without the resurrection of Jesus we would still be lost in our sins.

Santa, I Can’t Decide

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I love the story of St. Nicholas. In fact my daughter has watched the Veggietales movie that tells the story like a million times. We have watched the movie all year. The story of St. Nicholas is a great tale to share with your children. A true Christian hero who selflessly seeks to help those in his community who are in need.

We love St. Nicholas, but we are still undecided on Santa Clause. My wife and I have discussed whether we will tell our daughters that Santa Clause uses magic to sneak into our house at night to leave presents as long as they are good all year. I grew up with my parents doing the whole Santa thing. But as an adult I have some issues with playing Santa.

Quick disclaimer, I am in no way saying you should not allow Santa to visit your house on the night before December 25th. I am only sharing my views on the pros and cons of having the jolly elf pay my children a visit.

I will start with the pros:

1. It is fun. Come on we all know that we continue the Santa tradition because it is fun for us. We enjoy magic and hope our children will embrace the belief in something unexplainable. My wife has many cherished memories of her parents telling her about Santa, and she hates to miss out on that with our girls.

2. Conformity… Although I could strongly argue against this one. It will be easier to teach our girls what every other parent is teaching their children. If we choose not to do Santa, I do not look forward to the phone calls from other parents when my angels blow the magic for someone else’s little one.

3. If you tell the story of St. Nicholas to your children you will be telling them about someone who unselfishly gives to the children of the world. I do see some value in the story of Santa Clause.

That is all I have. Do you have any pros to add to the list?

Now the cons:

1. I have to lie to my children. This is something I never want to do. I cringe at the thought of lying to my girls. Even if it is for fun. I want them to always trust what their daddy says.

2. We lose a great opportunity to teach our girls how much we love them. Most families experience great sacrifices to celebrate Christmas with a traditional Christmas morning opening gifts. I believe it is important that our girls learn that we work hard all year and Christmas is a celebration of giving. Gifts cost something. Santa doesn’t teach that, he owns a sweat shop full of elves who crank out toys each year…

3. Materialism. I am afraid Santa has been used to over commercialize Christmas. I know some of you are rolling your eyes, but think about it for a moment. Our children fill out lists of items to receive from some benefactor they only see at the mall. To them there is no cost involved. Wouldn’t I be teaching my girls to covet?

4. He overshadows Jesus. A child does not fully understand the importance of Jesus gift, but can easily grasp a man dropping off gifts one night of the year. Admit it, it is hard to compete with that.

What do you think? Any other reasons why I shouldn’t teach my girls that Santa Clause will sneak in our house and leave them presents?

Again, I am not trying to tell you that you shouldn’t celebrate Christmas with Santa Clause. What ever we decide I know we will still include the books, the stories, and the movies that include him. I am just unsure if we will tell the. As if they are the truth. My daughter loves and enjoys Mickey Mouse, but we do t pretend that he is real…

Disney

Don’t forget to teach your children what this Christmas and every Christmas after is all about. We give gifts to celebrate the greatest of all gifts. We love our family and friends because of the love that has been given to us. Don’t forget to celebrate the birth of our savior. Enjoy the lights, enjoy the gatherings, and the gifts, but do not forget about Jesus. Whether it includes Santa Clause or not, Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

The harvest feast of 1621 is known as the first Thanksgiving of the Plymouth Colony.  The popular account ends assuring us that the Pilgrims went on to live lives of prosperity after that year. However, that is not true. The Pilgrims did enjoy a feast and a celebration for three days with their new friends, but their bellies were only full for a few days. In fact, the winter of 1621 was one of the leanest they suffered. 

The winter of 1623 was a miracle straight from God. The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony lived through the winter with only a ration of five kernels of corn a day with no deaths.  After that winter the colony was expanded by additional settlers from England. With the increase of mouths to feed they would need twice the harvest as the previous year. How were they to feed so many when they had barely fed everyone the winter before? 

The problem was found in their system of economy. The Pilgrims’ had adopted a system from their original contract with their merchant-sponsors in London that called for everything produced by the colony to go into a common store and each member was entitled to their share. If you worked six days a week you received the same “earnings” as someone who worked four. Obviously, this system was seen as unfair (despite being designed to be fair).

The new settlers only added to the Pilgrims’ frustrations. These new comers lacked the Pilgrims’ work ethic.  Many of them came straight from the debtors’ prisons in England.  The newcomers were lazy and complained about their conditions. They grumbled that they wanted more privileges, more food, and less work.  The moral of the colony was plummeting. Something had to be done.

Governor William Bradford sought the answers to the colonies plight in the pages of his Bible.  He found his answer in 2 Thessalonians 3:10.  “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  

Bradford quickly went to work and assigned the single men to live with Pilgrim families.  He then divided up the common fields and gave families individual rights to their own tracts.  The corn grown on each family’s tract was for the family’s private use. If they produced more than they could consume they were able to sell or trade it for something they needed or desired. 

At first the slackers tested the Pilgrims. Refusing to work or adhere to Bradford’s audacious rules. But only a few days passed before they were convinced and went to work for the families of Plymouth. 

The colony flourished under their new capitalist society. The Pilgrims found they now had too much food and opened trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. They paid off their debts and their success started the “Great Puritan Migration.” Plymouth became that shinning city on a hill that William Brewsterbelieved it could be. And today we celebrate for the very same reasons those early settlers celebrated.

Today we thank God for his guidance and protection in our lives. We praise him for the journey that we have been on and for how he has kept us during the hard times. We thank him for when he has changed our course for our own protection, and for the new opportunities that he has provided. Today we thank God for his work throughout history. How he has consistently used men and women to blaze a new trail, and teach us about love and compassion. We thank him for this nation, those who serve it, those who cherish it, and those who protect it. But most of all today, on this Thanksgiving Day, we thank him for that ultimate sacrifice that was made so that all men could know him not only as the Creator but as our Father.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Thanksgiving: When LIfe’s Difficult

Thanksgiving: When Life’s Difficult

Squanto

Squanto (Photo credit: *cHARLIe 2112(^:*)

In 1604 a young, Native American named Squanto and four others were taken from their tribe and sent over seas to England. Those who took them planned to teach them English and then return to America with them as guides. After nine years, Squanto was returned to his homeland and his people. But he was kidnapped again and taken to Spain to be sold as a slave. Squanto escaped and made his way back to England. In 1620, Squanto joined a passage back to New England. Fifteen years had passed and Squanto longed for his homeland and family. When he arrived in his village it was empty.  The only remnants of his people were bones and skulls. His village has suffered a vicious disease.  Squanto sought shelter with Massasoit, the chief of a neighboring tribe. And it was there that he mourned his people for six months. 

English: Squanto or Tisquantum teaching the Pl...

English: Squanto or Tisquantum teaching the Plymouth colonists to plant corn with fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day, Squanto was requested to help some English settlers who had colonized the tribal lands of his people. They were described as kind and peaceful people, with little hope of surviving. The settlers had little food and even less knowledge of farming in the strange climate of New England. Squanto, Chief Massasoit, and all sixty warriors from his tribe visited the Plymouth Colony. Squanto helped interpret for the chief and aided in establishing a treaty between the two groups. When Chief Massasoit and his warriors returned to their village, Squanto stayed behind to help the settlers. They were closely approaching the end of the corn planting season, and Squanto knew if they did not get to work immediately the colony would meet the same fate as his own people. Squanto taught the settlers how to survive, plant corn and pumpkin, to catch eels and fish, stalk deer, and how to find herbs for food and medicine.

The Pilgrims in the Plymouth Colony shared with Squanto the Good News of Jesus Christ. Squanto found his life’s purpose within the passages that told the story of Joseph. How he was sold into slavery, imprisoned, and then later made second in command of Egypt, just under Pharaoh. Squanto’s life’s purpose could be found in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Suddenly, years of pain and meaningless disappeared and Squanto began to see how God could take the evil things that men do and bring good out of it. Had Squanto never been taken, he would have never learned English.  Had he not been taken again the second time, he would have perished with the rest of his village.  Had the settlers not sought help from Massasoit when they did they would have missed the window for planting the corn harvest. Squanto chose to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and as the author of his life’s story.   

The spring following Squanto’s help to the settlers was their first harvest banquet where they praised God and their new friends for their harvest. But that harvest was not that great. It was not the abundant harvest that would come a few years later. It was not the harvest that marked the colonies’ prosperous times. That celebration was a few more years away.

Much of Squanto’s life had been stolen from him. He spent years as the property of another individual. Squanto lost everything. His family was dead, and he had very little to live for. But he found hope in a similar tale to his own. What he learned of Joseph’s life mirrored his own. He saw how Joseph had been unjustly imprisoned and forgotten. But he saw every agonizing detail had been with the purpose of saving a people. Squanto found solace from his depression in knowing that his life had meaning. He began to understand how the pieces fit together and this knowledge gave him a new drive in life.

Sometimes it is hard to see past our hardships. Maybe this year has been difficult for you and you are having a hard time mustering up a thankful heart for tomorrow’s celebration of Thanksgiving. Take a moment and ponder on the stories of Squanto and Joseph. Our lives often contain low points, but low points simply separate the high points.

This Thanksgiving, we should remember that God has a plan that he put into motion before Adam and Eve even sinned. He has provided us with everything that we need to experience life o the fullest. Most of the time there is only one person in the way of us enjoying that abundant life, us. So we should be thankful for the difficult times this past year because we know that God has plans for those hurts. We know God never wastes a hurt.

 

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Winter wilderness 2

When they Pilgrims set foot on the beach of their new home they broke out in praise to God once again. They were thankful for a fairly uneventful passage, for God’s guidance to the cape, and for the new charter they had ratified. So far it appeared they had made the right decision in leaving the old world.

In his journal, William Bradford wrote this about the Pilgrim’s landing; “They fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.  And no marvel if they were thus joyful.”

In spite of their enthusiasm, the Pilgrims faced many woes that first winter. The delays in their departure cost them weeks of clear weather that would have allowed them to begin their colony. What they found inland was a cold, barren, desolate wilderness with no shelter.  One half of the colonists died that first winter, including Governor John Carver.  To succeed Carver, William Bradford was chosen.  However, things looked grim for the Pilgrims of Plymouth. 

On the last Thursday of November we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in America as reminder of all that we have to be thankful for. The Pilgrims of Plymouth would go through many days of anguish before they could celebrate their days of feasting that we model our celebrations after.  

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes we sit high on the mountain, and sometimes we look up from the valley unsure if we will ever make the climb. My pastor often says that you are either going through a storm, coming out of a storm, or nearing a storm in your life. This is true. But for those who believe in Christ we have something to be thankful for even during the hardest of times. True, you may be thankful for your family, friends, your job, and other relationships or belongings that you posses. But all of those things fail us at times. We might have to deal with losing our family, our friends may move, and our job… well many of you may be dealing with a loss of work right now in your life. This life is temporary, and thankfully so are its storms. 

English: Minnesota Snow Storm

English: Minnesota Snow Storm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pilgrim’s faced their new life with a faith in God that would rival most church members today. This Thanksgiving don’t forget to be thankful for the storms that he has brought you through. Just as he did for the Pilgrims of Plymouth, he has a plan for you. And although he does not want you to go through the hard times, they are part of life on this earth. One day, in eternity, those storms will seem to have been pretty small. If you are in the middle of a particularly trying storm that might seem difficult to comprehend. It may even make you angry. But this life is not all there is, and we have much to anticipate in the next.

 

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Thanksgiving: When LIfe’s Difficult

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the lan...

Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the landing party, when the Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod, November 11, 1620 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pilgrims were contracted into the governance of the Virginia Charter by signature when they chose to journey to America. Because the Pilgrims planned to settle in Cape Cod instead of the colony of Jamestown the Virginia Charter could not govern them. They believed God was guiding them to what would later be known as Plymouth (See Thanksgiving: Closed Doors and a Change of Direction). Elder William Brewster called a meeting with the Pilgrim leaders and explained that without a charter of their own there would be no laws to govern and no one to enforce decency.  Some on the ship had already heard others boasting of their freedoms to do whatever they willed once on land.  The Pilgrim leaders agreed that without an established civil government with a firm Christian base, they would soon have sedition and lawlessness.  There was a call to prayer for God’s guidance in the creation of a new charter.  William Bradford declared that he believed God had led them away from Virginia just for this very reason.  Bradford believed God wanted all men to see what He could do with a people who totally relied on Him for everything including their government. 

William Brewster quoted “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden… let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14).  They recalled what their pastor in Holland had taught them about the governing of the early church. 

Bradford declared, “The Lord Jesus is King of His Church and holds all power in haven and earth.  Christ the Lord gives each Christian the power of self-government.  Christians then elect representatives, or elders, from among themselves to serve them and be examples to them.”  

Page from William Bradford's Of Plimoth Planta...Thus the Mayflower Compact was written and the members of the Plymouth Colony chose to relinquish their individual independence, and live as a covenanted people. The Mayflower Compact is one of the pillars of American constitutional government. This is the first time in recorded history that free and equal men voluntarily covenanted together to create their own civil government.  Along with the ratification of the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims elected John Carver as their first governor.

The Pilgrims were blessed with great leaders who sought to serve God first, their families second, and each other third. Their story inspires me to be a better man. The choices they made while still on the Mayflower have influenced America for nearly four hundred years. They chose a fresh start guided by God and his guiding hand. They did not yet realize the hardships before them. They were ill-prepared for the coming months. But they chose to settle this barren wilderness, and to allow their God to be their guide.

This Thanksgiving let us be thankful for the new beginnings that God offers us, and remember to follow the one who knows the outcomes of every decision. Only he knows what lies in store for us in coming days, and only he can guide us.

 

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Thanksgiving: When LIfe’s Difficult

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Landing of the Pilgrims by Cornè, Michele Feli...

Landing of the Pilgrims by Cornè, Michele Felice circa 1805. Displayed in the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the early 17th century the Church of England, led by King James I, persecuted anyone who did not recognize the churches absolute civil and religious authority. Those who disagreed with the church were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs.

A group of Separatists, those who believed that the Church of England was beyond repair, fled to Holland and lived for 11 years until they decided to flee to the New World. It was no doubt a difficult decision to make, but they were absolute in their pursuit of freedom to worship God in a manner they believed he approved. These future colonists decided their religious freedom and identity were worth the treacherous journey across the ocean and a difficult life in a new frontier.

On August 6, 1620, after many delays the Mayflower set sail with 102 passengers including 40 of the Separatists who we know as the Pilgrims. The voyage took seven weeks. On the day the lookout spotted land, the passengers rushed to the deck. The sight of land was overwhelming for those who had spent so long at sea and they burst forth with praise and gratitude to their God. Their moment of celebration lasted so long that the Captain was forced to order them below the deck.

The travelers were weary from their journey, but what lied ahead for them was two of the most difficult years of their lives. The land they celebrated seeing for the first time was already in the early stages of winter. The delays they experienced in England had cost them two months of mild, autumn weather. They were surprised to find their journey had only led them a few hundred miles north of their destination of the Virginia colony. They were less than a week’s journey from landfall! The Virginia colony offered a fresh start for the Pilgrims. They started south, but their progress was slowed by the dangerous weather and low tides. The coast line was a treacherous passage. The trip became frighteningly perilous, and the Pilgrims began praying feverishly for the safety of the ship.

Elder William Brewster called a meeting with John Carver, William Bradford, and Edward Winslow. Brewster felt that God was intervening in their passage to the Virginia Colony. The men discussed their own feelings about the situation and decided that it must be God’s providence that was discouraging their progress southward. They referred to the account of God’s intervention of Paul and Silas’ journey into Asia recorded in Acts 16:6-10. The Holy Spirit instead directed Paul and Silas to Macedonia, which led to the creation of the Philippians Church. During their meeting, Captain Jones interrupted their assembly with his latest assessment. The journey south would have to be halted. They would return to sea and wait for the weather to improve.

The four asked that he wait until they first spoke with the others. After much discussion and prayer, the Pilgrims unanimously agreed to the change of course. They then sent word to Captain Jones, and he redirected the course back north to Cape Cod. On November 11th, 1620 they dropped anchor in a natural harbor inside of the cape.

Isn’t it funny how we often feel so comfortable when our lives are planned out? We like when our lives seem to be in order, and according to plan. But I have found that God often changes the course of our lives drastically. The Pilgrims thought they were settling in the already established (although struggling) Virginia Colony, but God had other plans for them. Our lives are often like that. Sometimes God closes doors in our lives. We may believe that we have missed out, but God knows what he is doing. This Thanksgiving lets celebrate the doors that God closed and the new doors that he opens because we chose to follow his course.

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Thanksgiving: When LIfe’s Difficult

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

The Enemy Is Seeking To Devour Our Children

Source: Target.com
Girls Hello Kitty Costume

Warning! I am going to vent a little…

I hope the image to the left disgusts you as much as it disgusts me. I felt sleazy just looking it up. But I wanted you to know what I was talking about. My wife and I were walking through the Halloween section of our local Target looking for a Halloween bucket for our almost two-year old. My daughter was enjoying looking through the costumes when we came across this Girls Hello Kitty costume. At first I didn’t notice it was for little girls, and I thought it was in the wrong section! Then I saw the face of the young lady who is modeling the outfit. I was astonished that this outfit would be produced and marketed for young girls. I cannot imagine someone buying this for their 12-15 year old!?

I am the father of two very young girls, and I cannot imagine what type of father would allow his little princess to walk out his front door with this costume on. Our society is constantly teaching our little girls that they must be harlots to be noticed. And our young men are being taught that women are objects of their fantasies and sexual desires. Where is feminist outrage over this absurd exploitation of our little girls?

Fathers we must teach our little girls how they should expect to be treated as ladies. They need to know they can be loved without being sexualized. They need you to give them attention, and teach them what it means to be loved and cared for. We must teach them how to respect themselves.

Fathers we must teach our young boys to respect girls. Our society teaches our young men to perceive girls as objects for exploitation or prizes to be won by being deceptive. We have a grave responsibility to teach these young boys how to be men and how to treat women.

Mothers you have a responsibility to teach little girls how to be ladies. I know that you want to be their best friend when they get older, but the best way to do that is to be their mother now. They will respect and love you for this. They need you to model what it means to be a woman. They need you to support them, but they also need you to teach them that they are not sexual objects.

Mothers you set an example to your little boys of what to expect from a woman. They will most likely marry someone who reminds them of their mother (although most of us do not notice until after we have been married a few years). You have the responsibility to show your young man how a woman should expect him to treat them.

I know this is a lot of responsibility. But it is the job that we accepted when we decided to become parents. We cannot allow our society to teach our little girls to become harlots, and we must teach our young men to treat women with respect. Allowing your little girl to leave the house dressed in this sexually provocative costume accomplishes neither of these. Be vigilant parents, the enemy is seeking to devour your precious children.

The Great Autumn Debate

It is that time of year again. In east Tennessee we are experiencing cool morning and evenings with mild temperatures during the day. Fall is in the air. I am fortunate to live in the Appalachian region of our country, and autumn is a beautiful time of year here. The trees shed their chlorophyll and beautiful orange, red, and brown fills the landscape. The Smoky Mountains are a great place to visit during fall.

Autumn also brings about the beginnings of the holiday seasons . November is busy with the preparations of Thanksgiving and the now commercial holiday of Black Friday. In December we all await the 25th when we celebrate Christmas. And of course we end the year with a celebration of New Year’s Eve. This exciting time of year begins with October. As fall becomes obvious, Christians begin the annual discussion of, “Do we celebrate Halloween or not?”

English: Friendly pumpkin Svenska: Vänlig pumpa

Halloween, is it a Pagan or Christian Holiday?

The answer to whether a Christian should participate in Halloween is different depending on your background. Dependent on how much emphasis your family put into celebrating the day. Many have decided to shy away from the holiday, stay at home, turn out all of the lights, and go to bed early. They argue that the holiday is of pagan origin, and many believe it to be a devilish scheme. Some have tried to “Christianize” the holiday with events such as Trunk or Treat or Harvest Festivals. They contend that the holiday is innocent fun and as long as you do not dress like a witch or devil you should be able to Trick-or-Treat enough candy to warrant a few fillings at your next dental appointment.

To better understand the celebration and how a Christian should respond to Halloween, we will take a moment to learn more about the celebrations that helped form our contemporary holiday. The beginnings of Halloween can be found in the Celtic observance of the Festival of Samhain (summer’s end) at the beginning of the Celtic year. The festivals included preparations for the winter as well as religious ceremonies where they offered sacrifices (harvest, animals, and maybe human…) to their gods. Ancient stories describe Samhain as a magical time of the year where spirits wage battle, fairies cast spells, and the barriers that separate the natural and supernatural world were broken or relaxed. Another tradition says that it was believed the dead walked among the living during Samhain.

Although, Halloween may owe its earliest forms to pagan rituals and festivals many aspects of the contemporary holiday actually came from the Church’s observance. The Celtics were later Christianized, but many of their pagan traditions survived. Around 800 A.D. the church established All Saints’ Day on November 1st, and later added All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. All Souls’ Day was a day to pray for and remember those who had died during the year. Observance of All Souls’ Day included ringing bells and prayers for those in purgatory.

It became a traditional belief that souls wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day. In the tradition All Hollows’ Eve provided the spirits last chance to gain vengeance on their enemies. Christians would wear masks and costumes to disguise themselves from the spirits that might torment them. Sound familiar? Even the contemporary game of Trick-or-Treat may have derived from the Christian observance of Hallowmas where the poor would go door to door praying for the dead in exchange for food.

The Reformation leaders took contention against the celebration of All Hallows’ Eve and the Church’s rituals. When the Puritans came to New England they stood against the celebrations. Halloween did not come to America until the Scott Irish migration. In fact the almanacs of the late 18th and 19th centuries do not mention Halloween in any form.

Contemporary Halloween

Maybe you are like me and have fond memories of Halloween nights in your neighborhood. I remember walking our subdivision and having fun with the kids that I grew up with. Halloween was about one thing, candy. Sure there were witches, ghosts, demons, and dead people all around. But I ventured out into the darkness to earn my bag of cavity inducing sugar. For many of you reading this, you probably have the same memories. As a child you did not relate the evening to satanic worship or anything of the sort. I didn’t realize witches were real until the last few years! Contemporary Halloween is not a spiritual observance for the majority of those who choose to celebrate the end of summer by dressing in costumes, attending parties, or taking your child Trick-or-Treating.

Candy corn and candy pumpkins—one of my f...

However, like so many other holidays that are observed by Americans; Halloween has the potential to become something that Christian’s should avoid. As my wife and searched for Halloween costumes for our daughters (they are both going to be Minnie Mouse this year) I was surprised as the amount of provocative costumes. I wouldn’t want my daughters looking through the costume catalogue. This reminds me that many parties may provide for unhealthy situations for Christians. We must not forget that we have been called to live differently from the rest of the world, and we should never take part in things that would lead us to forget our behaviors should reflect the redeemed life. Halloween has a reputation of being a night of mischief. It is important to remember that our faith is not something that we can walk away from one night of the year without repercussions.

Our Response

“Should you or shouldn’t you?” that is the question. The truth is I believe this is one of those areas where you should use your own judgment. If you feel a conviction for celebrating Halloween, than don’t do it. If you see nothing wrong with it, I do not see any reason why you can’t dress up and have fun with your friends. Does Halloween originate from pagan rituals? Yeah, but so does many other holidays and traditions that we celebrate. And many of Halloween’s traditions also come from church history.

Let me say this, my opinion, as long as you are not entertaining the occult or doing anything that goes against the lifestyle of a believer; I do not believe Halloween is of any danger to you as a follower of Christ. It is abundantly clear from the book of Acts that all things cultic are off-limits for the believer (Acts 8, 13, and 19). But if your Halloween is about dressing up as your favorite cartoon character or superhero, going door to door soliciting cavities, enjoying a bon-fire or any other harmless activity associated with this time of year; by all means have a ball.

But remember, in areas where the Bible does not speak directly we must give our brothers and sisters grace when we disagree. No need in arguing over the little things. Remember Paul’s teaching from Romans 14.

Related Reading: Why All the Arguing?

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