October 31st is coming swiftly. The homemade costumes are being finished, and shelves are emptying fast. But did you know that Halloween, an $8 billion holiday second only to Christmas, was a pagan holiday that is still holding onto its roots today? Celtics sacrificed and practiced occult rituals, more than likely including sexual rituals, for the festival of Samhain. Samhain took place in view of the coming of winter and ending of summer. Winter for these people meant death of people. They sacrificed believing that they would be heard and people spared. It was a festival during which time ghouls and evil spirits and the past dead would come out after people and crops, and masks were needed to trick and ward off the spirits. So, costumes and sexuality have been a part of this holiday from the beginning.
And no less are costumes and sexuality involved today. It’s the one time of year that we turn outfits that are symbols of healing (i.e. – the nurse) into something incredibly sexual. The evil that is displayed through Hollywood has become increasingly full of gore and rampant with evil. So the pagan is making a comeback in unprecedented ways. The caution is now more than ever that Halloween has become a time of evil and debauchery, drunkenness and vandalism. Though some churches are working hard to redeem the day, the main theme is moving towards the overtly sexual and graphically horrific. Churches need to take a greater stand against the darkness than the simple Trunk or Treat. We need to painstakingly make efforts towards a Christ-centered focus that scorns the devil and evil.
Historically, October 31st has meant something else, something much more influential in the life of the church. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses against the Roman Catholic church to the actually church building’s front door. Between the corruption of the church leaders and the mistranslation of the Mark 4:17 to say “do penance” instead of the correct “repent”, Luther was moved to write the Theses. Stephen Nichols, out of Ligonier’s 5 Minutes of Church History, says it like this:
The real main character in Reformation Day is not Luther. It’s the Word of God. What Luther discovered as a monk is that for centuries, the true teachings of the Word of God had been hidden by century upon century of tradition. That’s what Reformation Day is about: it’s about pulling back the covers and releasing the power of the Word of God and the beauty and the truth of the gospel. That’s why we celebrate Reformation Day.
If we are going to reclaim anything, we ought to do so in a Christ-centered, gospel-driven way. If we don’t make October 31st about God and His Word and salvation through Christ, then, at best, all we are doing is providing a safer environment for children to celebrate Halloween. At worst, we are passively telling them that Halloween and what it represents are acceptable to a Christian and, therefore, before God. The Bible is clear that we are to make this, like the rest of our lives, about Him and His purposes. So how are you re-shaping Halloween into Reformation Day? How are you making what has been lost into obscurity of cultural tradition the forefront? How are you displaying Christ clearly on October 31st? This is how one Christian leader suggests that we do this. I tend to agree.