All Hallows Eve & Hallowing God: The Critical Difference & the Critical Link
- Stephen Leonard Paul Anderson Youth Home
- 2010 27 Oct
Depending on where and what you read you will be able to see your share of articles pro and con Halloween and its modern practice. ChristianityToday.com printed an article by Elesha Coffman, Managing Editor of Christian History, which sets the table concisely without offering any recommendation on whether Christians should or should not involve their children in "trick or treating." He titles his article, "Festival of Fears." Anyone familiar with Halloween's history will know it originated with fears. As Coffman writes concerning the ancient Celtic practice of Samhain, a forerunner of Halloween, though there have certainly been additions, subtractions, and reformations along the historical path; "It's likely that Celts repelled the foreboding caused by lengthening nights, falling temperatures, and withering plants, plus serious belief in supernatural evil, with bonfires, human and/or vegetable sacrifices, and scary costumes." So you may ask why even hint at any link between hallowing the Name of God, our Father in Heaven, and a practice celebrating fears and pagan ideas? Doesn't it suggest sacrilege?
No matter whether one might think Halloween harmless or evil, no one can escape the fact that commercial enterprises, whether producing the typically gory and repugnant "Halloween movies" or designing costumes intended to scare and inspire nightmares, intend to make money through fear. Many find fear to be a means of exhilaration, especially when there is a secure and safe outcome for oneself. This is especially true of the teen or young adult who may not yet fully appreciate the gravity of risk gone awry or the depravity of mankind. These fears and what is dredged up to produce them hover on the fine line between the natural and the supernatural, the seen and the unseen. God is a spirit, who has in his revelation drawn back the curtain on a supernatural, spirit world, which is every bit as real as the material world we inhabit. The Bible certifies the unseen world as not far removed from us, but around us and in our midst. It is not dependent on whether we see it, feel it, or believe in it; it exists. But note what C.S. Lewis wrote, "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." (The Screwtape Letters)
To pray with sincerity and genuine intent, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name," is to acknowledge that our God is Lord of all; that He rules over the seen and unseen world, the day and the night, the seasons and forces of nature, life and death, angels and devils. It means that we hunger for His glory to be made known while exposing and banishing the legions of spiritual darkness. Anything that promotes the furtherance of Satan and his agenda is to be denied by us and confronted with truly "hallowing God's name" in practice, word, and affection, because we believe He is, and that He rewards those who please Him. "Hallowing God" is the opposite of what inspires much of Halloween practice, thriving as it does on the fears of devils, fearful, agonizing and gory death, and the perverse; or on the other hand mocking the existence of the spiritual world. The early Celts would have been more effective in banishing their fears if they had organized community prayer meetings and worshiped the true God of heaven and earth. Hallowing our Father is acknowledging that He has a claim on us and our children and we not only accept His claim, we love it.
"My Father, be glorified in my thinking, my words, my family, and my world."
Stephen W. Leonard is a retired military chaplain with over 34 years in the Army. He served in combat as an Infantry Officer before becoming a chaplain. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and has been the pastor of several churches. He is the founder of a national Youth Leadership Conference and has been the Director of National and International Chaplain ministries. He has degrees from Wheaton College in Illinois, Covenant Theological Seminary in Missouri, and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Stephen is the writer of the weekly devotional series, Strength for the Day. He has also written the booklet How to Pray for Your Child as a resource for parents. Stephen is married to Glenda Anderson Leonard, co-founder of the PAYH.
This article originated as a Strength for the Day devotional from the Paul Anderson Youth Home. If you would like to receive the Strength for the Day email devotional, click on this link to sign up for this weekly email devotional. Visit the website of the Paul Anderson Youth Home here.
Publication date: October 27, 2010