By Doug Peterson
My parents didn’t allow us costumed kids to say “trick or treat” when scavenging candy in the neighborhood on the last night in October. Our family doesn’t threaten people, they told us. “Happy Halloween” was the appropriate greeting, they told us.
Halloween poses several dilemmas for families these days: How much money do we fork out for costumes, decorations and candy? Do our kids really need more prepackaged sweets in their lives? Does driving house to house in a neighborhood sending our kids door to door asking for candy really constitute “quality time?” Does sending them out to walk the streets at night really count as exercise if they come home with bags of junk food?
For Christians, Halloween poses theological issues as well. None of us want to celebrate the devil, evil spirits and witchcraft. Most (but not all) Christians understand that there is personified evil in the world. Our tradition generally tells us to stay away from that stuff – it’s dangerous to mess with powers and spirits we don’t understand.
Our churches also teach that Jesus Christ is stronger than the spirits out there in the world. Many churches these days use Halloween as an opportunity for families to get together and play games, dress up and celebrate that, because of Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of what goes bump in the night. That life isn’t about tapping into some dark power. That life is about doing what we can to serve others – in broad daylight.
Don’t be afraid of Halloween, but don’t get too into it, either. Talk to your kids about how you understand evil, the devil and spirits. As costumed kids come to your door scavenging prepackaged goodies, take time to learn names and notice how the neighbor kids have grown over the years. And if I don’t get a chance to talk to you this week: Happy Halloween!