I'm sitting in my living room, watching the Restore Sanity and/or Fear rally with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. There is a lot of funny stuff going on, but in the midst of the fun and games, there is a message that rings true and seems to be very appropriate this weekend. One of the things Colbert and Stewart are going back and forth about is fear. Colbert rants about fear, and Stewart tries to counter him. There were many media examples of things that we should fear, from both ends of the political spectrum. Most of the fears are overblown, and only serve to stir people up.
The reason I think the timing of this rally is appropriate is that this is the weekend that many in the church fear the most: The "Devil's holiday," otherwise known as Halloween. It is also the time of year when productions like "Helloween" and "Judgement House" use fear as a means of evangelism. The month of October, especially the last week, is the most terrifying month on the church calendar. Many Christians try to avoid Halloween completely, sitting in the basement and pretending they are not home. Their kids are not allowed to participate in the festivities. Others gather together and have celebrations with others because they want their kids to be able to dress up and get candy. These gatherings have names like "Trunk or Treat," or "Harvest Festival," and are attempts to Christianize what they see as a pagan holiday. When our children were growing up, we were in that second category.
I believe that we should all live according to our convictions, but those convictions should not be based in fear. In this article that I linked to yesterday, the author states that the celebration of All Saints began in the 300s, and that the date of November 1 and the night before was fixed on the church calendar in the 700s. The idea of celebrating the saints came about as a way of saying that Satan and death do not have the last word. The saints are alive. The author makes the point that the church has looked for ways to mock Satan throughout the centuries, including picturing him in a red suit with a tail. From gargoyles on churches to Martin Luther choosing October 31 as the day when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door, the Christians have chosen to mock Satan rather than cower in fear. And he should be mocked, because he has been defeated.
I know that Scripture says that the Devil roams around like a lion, looking for folks to devour, but I think that means something other than living in fear because some people claim evil stalks the land at the end of October. There are more important things to be concerned about, and their are many other ways Satan tries to steal, kill, and destroy. He is alive and active in this world, but Scripture does tell us that the One who is in us is greater. Satan and his greatest weapon, death, is defeated because Jesus was raised from the dead. We are not given a spirit of fear, but rather, a spirit that calls God Abba. If the creator of the universe is our Father, should we fear anything? I think not.
So, go out and celebrate Halloween. Or not. Whatever you choose to do, do it out of conviction that is based on faith in a God who is all powerful, not a feeling of fear.
From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning:
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