Monday, October 29, 2007

How the Christ Stole Halloween

What we must never forget is that Christ conquered death.
In the moment we forget, we forfeit the protection of the Holy Spirit, the providence of the Father, the world-changing power of Christ Himself.
Never forget that Christ conquered death and the evil one.
First, I will bring up a point that I've made in a few discussions.

I have been to Halloween parties where the gruesome masks that flowed fake blood with a button and haunting party music was less eerie than Christian stay-at-home parties. They hid from the masks inside of dark homes, afraid to attract trick-or-treaters. Does that sound odd to anyone?
The first kind of response to that could be that "those people don't realize the powers that they are dabbling in." That phrase applies to more Christians than the average trick-or-treater.

Holidays are for man

Look at what Jesus did when he was challenged about the Sabbath. "The Lord of the Sabbath" lays the smack-down by saying that "it's just a day." Honoring the spirit of the Sabbath is more valuable to the Son of Man than honoring the rules around those days.
So, let's deconstruct a holiday. Some questions for you people to answer. What's the reason for celebrating it? What are the origins? What practice constitutes celebration for the holiday? When should it be celebrated?
Samhain is a holiday where the ancient people of the British Isles believed that spirits, demons, etc. were allowed to walk freely around. (Evidently, the druids were dualists of worlds that were more ambiguous than Hellenic philosophers' worlds.) To venture outdoors meant being exposed to them unless you wore a costume to frighten them or to blend in. Celebrated the night of Oct. 31 - the druidic new year. Then Pope Somebody changed all saint's day (All Hallowed's Day) to Nov. 1. The thing is that they counted the day as running from sun-down to sun-down. To us, that meant All Halloweds Day started at 6 p.m. Oct 31 to 6 p.m. Nov. 1. The holiday meant to celebrate the dead saints ran over a holiday that 'celebrated' the crossing of our world with the spiritual one. All Halloweds Eve it was, though celebrated in a mish-mash of rites. The name, like a road, changed with use to Halloween (evening to e'ening.)
This is the context we're thrown into. Even I, as a perfectionist, would like to go back and simplify most of that history. Yet, we're given this time to live.

A fate worse than death
What do Christians have to fear? Really? If you think about it, we're called to be afraid of a fate worse than death.
"Don't fear the one who can have your body thrown to the fires; fear the one who can have your soul tossed into Hell."
Christians' relatiomship to fear is a big topic. Suffice it to say this comforting fact: that the Lord guides our dooms. The fear of the originators of Halloween doesn't apply to us. We know that the spirit world overlaps with ours on a daily basis - in the traffic of demons, yes; and of angels; and in the intervening powers of God. We know that the only safe navigation is alliance with God. In a way, Christians are cheating in the competition between mortals and spirit beings -- we've befriended the referee who now makes all the foul calls in our favor.
So what are you afraid of? Being tainted somehow? I've heard it said that the purity of God against sin is like pure water. If you climbed a mountain and captured rain feom that peak, that water would be absokutely pure. If one drop of toilet water landed in it, who would drink from it? God, as much as water is used metaphorically to descrbe Him and His, isn't water. What did Christ's resurrection prove? That the grave couldn't keep him down. That the purity of god is more like light. If the water metaphor held up, that would mean God kicked Adam out because Adam's sin would get God dirty. Instead, it's a blessing that Godkicked him out: adam would have been snuffed out like a candle in a grenade blast. Moses barely survives seeing God's backside (talk about a weird passage), and days later Moses still looked like a lamp. I'm not addressing the Christians that see Halloween as harmless nonsense (I will soon.) For the Messiah-folk who think there are powers out on Halloween, hear me. God has given you the power to conquer. Christ swam the Styx to retrieve the keys to "H-E-double hockeysticks"... Christ did all He did not through His power, but through the power of His (our) Heavenly Father. You'll be fine on the liminal day when the dead wander the earth. Think of it as practice for the final day.

Impure origins

I sympathise most with folks who say that the don't like the origins of Samhain and won't celebrate it. I heard of a man that got rid of his wind chimes because they may have had the origins of warding away demons. Because wind chimes once claimed to have magical power over demons and he was charged with having nothing to do with magic, he concluded he sahould get rid of them. In doing so, he validates the claim that wind chimes have magic in them. Contemporary Christians do the same with Christmas trees, holly wreathes, superstitions, etc. Halloween carries power if you think it does. Even worse, it carries power over you if you think it does.
Christ Incorruptible

Maybe you're among the ranks of Xians who just see it as a choice of celebrations. "It's just costumes and candy - and I'd prefer not to be a part of it." These are the Modernist lingerers... While they disarm the demons' powers of fear, they abdicate their own Christ-originated power to rescue the souls still trapped in fear.Let's give them the benefit of the doubt about their perception of reality.
What kind of mixed message do we tell our children when we say that the blood of Christ has put them into His hands... and then, we hide them in the dark on a day "when the Spirit world rubs against ours"?
Make no mistake: Passover is celebrated right before Easter... not in October. And our Savior stole that holiday, too.

The great commission applies here, still.
Being of the world means being scared of flesh or spirits.
Being IN the world means meeting those people and showing your Lord's power over fear.
Christians that think they can beat the holiday by ignoring the holiday are confused. The best way to make problems worse is by ignoring them. Christ solved problems by involving Himself (that’s how God solved the Man problem.) Christ, incorruptible, waded waist deep into humanity and its soil. Then, by virtue of His connection with God, He stained them with His holiness (His stain could be said to continue on with us today). Can we do anything more? Christians could involve themselves in Halloween and allow themselves to change the holiday. Honestly, no Christian has a spiritual reason to fear ghosts or manipulated flesh (scar faces). So what would they dress as? Things that are truly fearful, like “Nothingness” or whatever their minds think of? Possibly. What if Christians dressed as conquerors among the dead? How much more fitting would that costume be. What if the Church made an effort to hold safe-zones for children to trick-or-treat in?
The Spiritual Horror-houses are a step in the right direction, though many Christians find them too horrifying to attend. This "Scare to Heaven" tactic ceases to be effective at the same point that "Hellfire and Brimstone" sermons cease to be effective. Like I said, though, at least these churches are active in the season.

Comforted by the hatchet

While those churches do their best thought - to whatever avail - they are still working as God's instrument. Luther's hatchet image should be comforting to us. The great woodsman still uses we rusty hatchets. No matter how we mess up the job, God's intervening powers catch our work and grow it. Many feel that any attempt by the church to do a coordinated change can only end poorly. These same folks may forget that success in anything man does hinges on God's involvement.The worst thing we could do is nothing. This is the sin of Adam. As one author put it, where is Adam when Eve sins. He's not off somewhere else, he's right beside her. And He does nothing. That in itself was not the sin of Adam (or was it), but it certainly didn't help. Whenever people question their purpose on earth, one answer that never comes up is "nothing." No one ever thinks they were sent to earth to do nothing. Hopefully no one has told churches that their best response to any situation is to do nothing.We're the salt. Salt never loses its saltiness. A meal is not salty when salt is not used.

Halloween suggestions

I propose churches enter an exploratory period with Halloween. I did a slight bit of Internet reading to prepare for this. Suppose a clergyman really read to solve the issues of holiday Samhain - he can then organize his thoughts and guide his flock, rather than leaving them all up to hiding in their homes. Again, it's not Passover.
Further, what if the church did make an effort, in a language of costumes, to beat the fears of the world? I'm confident that churches can introduce a more believer-friendly Halloween costume than what is already out there.
I also propose that pastors to their flocks, parents to their children, begin passing down the strength of God's word in times when fear and timidity reign in the world.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Um, this is not what a blog is for.

Hey, Lynne... I left my selfown, my cell-phone, at home. E-mail me if you wanna pass anything on.