“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5. It’s a wonderful promise that despite the darkness and evil in this world, the light of Jesus is able to shine strong enough and bright enough to dispel all of it. LCM’s School’s Team Lead, Charlie Macdonald, shares her reflections on shining the light of Jesus on Halloween.
31 October. A night hated by some, and for good reason too. A festival that celebrates what is dark and evil is surely to be avoided. But as Jesus came as the light of the world to shine in the darkness, the eve of Halloween poses an incredible opportunity to shine that light and build meaningful relationships with those in your community.
For me and my family we experienced both ends of the spectrum of avoiding Halloween altogether to going out and getting involved, but the Lord led us on a journey of thinking through how we should respond.
"we spent the next several Halloweens indoors with all the lights off pretending we weren’t in"
I’ve got four children, and when they were small my oldest, who was five years old at the time, opened the door to trick-or-treaters and was met by a tall figure wearing a big, scary ‘scream mask’. It gave him nightmares for weeks. We decided not to open the door after that, and ended up booking a holiday in Scotland every year just so as not to upset our neighbours and their kids who would have been disappointed if we didn’t participate. It gave us an excuse because we really didn’t know how to handle it.
A few years later, we moved to a new estate, but we spent the next several Halloweens indoors with all the lights off pretending we weren’t in. I just remember feeling convicted how on this one night of the year all the children and families on my estate are out trick-or-treating, and I wasn’t doing anything to reach out to them. It was an opportunity for us to be a light in a dark place - particularly in London where getting to know your neighbours can be feel hard. But on this one night of the year people have their doors open! We prayed about it, and I just felt God saying to me that if we want to make an impact where we live, we need to be out in the middle of it.
A Bible story that really inspired me was the one about the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel. God took Ezekiel to a valley full of dead, lifeless bones. It’s a hopeless, scary and almost Halloween-like scene, but God put Ezekiel in the middle of it all. I felt convicted that there is something powerful about going into the middle of the hopeless, dark and scary places, and seeing God use us in the midst of it all to bring life (as he did with Ezekiel). Jesus is that light we have, and he shines so much brighter where it is dark.
"We wanted to be a presence in the community."
We started off opening our door and handing out flyers with sweets, inviting families to our church’s kids’ club. It was a great conversation opener to start building relationships with the parents and help people get to know us. We wanted to be a presence in the community, and say that church is a place where everyone is welcome to come.
Our confidence grew each year as we saw what opportunities there were to reach out. We say to the kids; ‘you like dressing up, you like sweets, you like games - all these things happen in our church kids’ club!’ And we tell them how the Bible is full of interesting and frightening stories that you get to learn all about at church every week – it’s not just for Halloween.
Last year we went all out and decorated the front of our house with lights, balloons and pumpkins, and we put a table outside with some interactive games. When they ask us ‘trick-or-treat?’, we say ‘trick-or-treat back?’ and invite them to some of the challenges we’d set up. We had a huge pot of cold spaghetti which we’d dyed red and mixed in tomato sauce and plastic spiders and snakes. If they were brave enough, the children had to fish out the extra special sweets hidden in there - they loved it! We also played games like the strawberry lace race where they have to see who can eat a strawberry lace sweet from top to bottom the fastest without using their hands. There’s so many creative things you can try from apple bobbing, to chubby bunnies, to hook-a-duck. And it doesn’t have to be all gruesome and scary. I often like to carve silly faces in the pumpkins, or even try carving out a pineapple which can look really comical with the spikey stalk ‘hair’.
"Christian families were opening their doors reaching their neighbours and friends for Jesus."
It's a great opportunity to get your church involved too. If, like my church, you don’t have a building or enough people to run a traditional light party, you can help families get on board by running a session on Halloween on the upcoming Sunday. It’s a great chance for children to learn about Jesus being the light in a dark world and how we also have an opportunity to shine that light to our friends. It can be a space to allow children to talk about anything that might be scaring them about Halloween and to take it to God in prayer. Last year, all the families in our church walked out with a goody back full of sweets, glow sticks, and kids’ club flyers in preparation to engage trick-or-treaters the next week on Halloween. Halloween can be a really dark time, but I had this wonderful image of all these mini ‘light parties’ going on across the borough where Christian families were opening their doors reaching their neighbours and friends for Jesus.
"We want to be like Jesus, stepping out to meet the broken and needy where they are."
My son is 15 now – he’s not scared of Halloween anymore! But he sees it as an opportunity to go out and show that as Christians, although we don’t celebrate the dark and scary side of Halloween (he dressed up as a giant flamingo last year!), he’ll still go out with his friends and make the most of being a light amongst those who don’t yet know Jesus.
We want to be like Jesus, stepping out to meet the broken and needy where they are. It can be a big thing to invite someone to come to a Sunday church service, but it may be an easier thing to hand a flyer to a family already eager to engage with you on your doorstep. Once I had had those interactions with the families in my area, I then felt more confident to invite them to church events because we already had that relationship.
So whether it’s a light party, teaching your kids how Jesus triumphed over evil at the cross, giving out goody bags to families at church, giving sweets and leaflets to trick-or-treaters, or organising a games table outside your front door, Halloween is a unique opportunity to shine the light of Jesus.
What steps could you and your church take to shine the light of Jesus this Halloween? Contact email@example.com our Schools Team Lead for more information on how to help your church get involved.