I had a lot of fun trick-or-treating with Grace downtown on Halloween. We were harmless aliens. Nothing scary.
But there were plenty of fierce werewolves and bloody vampires and creepy ghosts wandering around. Plenty of costumes to remind me that Halloween is not really about candy; it’s about death–it’s particularly about our fear of death.
In many ways, watching horror movies and dressing up as frightening creatures is a way that we confront our fears. By placing ourselves in the story–even in these imaginary ways–we hope to gain some control over these forces of death that are really uncontrollable.
I know not all Christians choose to celebrate Halloween, but I believe it can be a fun celebration. (Who doesn’t love dressing up and getting free candy?) But as Christians, we do not try to fight death with death. We do not meet violence with violence. We do not try to overcome our fear of the uncontrollable forces of destruction by participating in the broad story of death.
As Christians, we may enjoy the Halloween festivities, but we truly celebrate the next two days–All Saints and All Souls. We may enjoy the pageantry and the candy, but we live into the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we do not face our fear of death by participating in the death story; we face our fear of death by participating in the Jesus story. In the story of a God who loves us deeply–so deeply that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In the story of how Jesus overcame the forces of death and violence through the power of the resurrection.
As Christians, we participate in a counter-story. A life-giving story. We seek to live our lives within the power of Christ’s life. And we seek to understand death in the context of the broader story, the bigger story, of eternal life in Christ.
I encourage you to take some time on this All Soul’s day to honor those you love who have lived and died in the reality of God’s Divine Life. Say a prayer. Light a candle. Tell a story. Type their names into the comments section below. And give thanks that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”