Holidays, Holiness, Honor

To ‘honor’ is to give respect, even more, to give reverence and homage. It is those words that I would use only to refer to my Creator, my Savior, and the One who has my heart first and foremost.

During this time of year, we live in a world that has a different focus on who should receive honor. First we had Halloween that slides seamlessly into Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and shopping comes out simultaneously with the costumes. What are we to do to be the ‘salt and light’ in these holidays?

Three pastors gave their thoughts about Halloween in response to our inquiry about the focus of popular Fall Festivals:

I once delivered a sermon entitled “Don’t Fear The Dark.”  The point of the sermon was just that.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been infused with the light of truth.  Why recoil from such things as Halloween?  I appreciate people’s concerns with seemingly embracing a dark holiday.  However, is Halloween really a dark holiday?  I would contend that it is, or at least have become for the vast majority of those who celebrate it, a distinctly American tradition for dressing up, having costume parties with friends and family, and for children to find and eat as much candy as possible.  Perhaps it is indicative of a culture of excess, with children and adults alike indulging in sweets and frolicking, but not any more so than on any other day of excess in American life.  My aim is to redeem the holiday, as with any other day, for the glory of God and the exaltation of Jesus Christ.

I am fully supportive of fall festivals and similar activities.  At the church I currently serve, we ask church members to decorate the trunk of their car with lights, fun Halloween decorations (we stay away from the gory and overtly scary), pumpkins or gourds, and pass out candy during the same time that the downtown businesses do in our area.  Our church is located just a few feet out of the downtown district.  We take advantage of this time to pass out information about the church and small Gospel tracts which are specifically geared toward the Halloween time.  We do our best to make Halloween a time for soul-winning and outreach.  Just as we do for every other time of the year.  We serve a God of redemption.  Our goal is to redeem the day, as with all days! – Rev. Chris Surber, Pastor First Congregational Church, Peru, IL , author of The Sacred Journey and Sweet Potatoes in my Coffee

I have struggled with this same question for years, and I have come down on the fact that Halloween is the second most popular “holiday” in America, next to Christmas.  People are out and about, and will come to events that churches put on simply because of the day.  Therefore, I cannot see Jesus not taking advantage of a time when people will come to you to hear the gospel.  While churches don’t promote gore, death and darkness, we do encourage dressing up, playing games, giving out candy, and focusing on Jesus as the One who gives us life and makes us new people.  While many people will still come only for the fun, games and candy, it is a great time to plant seeds, make friendships and just love on people where they are.  – Rev. Ted Wood, Pastor Rockledge United Methodist Church, Rockledge, FL

We don’t have what is called a “Fall Festival”.  We do have a fall Bazaar and fish fry.  The purpose of the Fall Bazaar is to raise funds to support our youth ministry.  The fish fry proceeds go to the men fellowship for different projects.  – Rev. Riley Richardson, Pastor, Myrtle Grove United Methodist Church, Pensacola, FL

It is wonderful to see God’s children obediently seeking to fulfill the Great Commission by following Jesus’ example…

Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.” Matthew 22:9-10 (NLT)