October 31, 2011
“So, what are you going to do, tonight?” When we were kids, the question had more focus: “What are you going to be?” That was the shorthand way to ask what your costumed self was going to pretend to be, in the annual haunt/hunt for Halloween candy. No one was talking about childhood obesity, back then; it was an all-out rush to find the houses inhabited by big-spenders, who bought the full-size candy bars… and were destined to run out, early…
But now, we're in the Great Recession – leading up to the Great Election, to hear some talk – and that must mean that there will be more “lights-out” houses than “full size Snickers.” That seems logical… but, is it true?
The National Retail Federation announced their findings yesterday, and their report says, “…Halloween spending is up again… because people are looking for an opportunity to have a little bit of fun.” They went on to say that “…the retail success of Halloween doesn't indicate a boost in sales to come for Christmastime.” There's an intriguing indicator: Ghouls and Goblins are trending “up,” while the Christ Child and the Shepherds are trading lower before the markets open…
Today will be a convoluted compromise for a lot of real-deal Christians in America. Workplaces that won't allow the mention of the Christ Child at Christmas will be highly-tolerant all day about the trappings of terror. Ghosts, goblins and Freddy Krueger will be welcomed in the same schools where the angels, wise men and shepherds have been blackballed.
Tonight, you'll be faced with the annual enigma. Your neighborhood will host children – some local, some imported from across town – who will plod door-to-door with bags bulging with candy bars and organic tangerines (there's at least one health-food promoter on every block, out to reengineer the treat menu!). Will you turn off the lights and head for the cinema, or stick around and answer the door? As a Christian, how do you adopt an "in, but not of the world" posture on Halloween?
You'll be exposed to three strata of Halloweening today. At the deepest level, people who openly engage interchange with the god of this world will be doing their thing. The prime-time network series that become family campfires on a weekly basis have already moved from Seventh Heaven to The Vampire Diaries. Tonight, dozens of movies and programs will celebrate Satan through broadcast and box-office outlets; make it a point to avoid these. What benefit will you derive from flirting with evil?
The midlevel of the macabre will be the trendy get-togethers that use costume parties and pumpkins to "get into the spirit of things." You could attend one of those and pull out a soapbox to deliver a discourse on demon possession … or, you could smile and move along without making it into a bigger issue than it might be for them. The retail point-of-contact will be those front-porch moments with the Star Wars mini-character from down the street; what about them?
They're looking for a handout. What will they get from you? Will your house be remembered as “home of the dud,” or a goodie oasis?
The Pocket Testament League [ptl.org] is a ministry embraced by many Master's grads. Their wallet-sized Gospel of John (it's God's How to Go to Heaven for Dummies manual) are designed to hand out along with a smile … knowing that you've just passed the wisdom of heaven with a handshake.
Just imagine if the kids at your door this evening could walk away with a Peanut Butter Cup, attached to John's Gospel. It's a little late for tonight, but … you could join the League on-line, practice passing life along for the next 364 days in your normal routine, and be ready for next Halloween …