Armored for October

As we prepare for the festival the last Sunday of the month, it is high time we get ready with our costume. My kids start to get excited around the first of June talking about costumes for Halloween. One always wants to be a princess, and another a Jedi. So they start planning and trying on different pieces until the costume is just right. The costume just isn’t complete until all the pieces are applied. A princess needs a gown, a wand, and a tiara, along with gloves, shoes, makeup and hairstyle. A Jedi needs a robe, a lightsaber, the right shoes, and a determined attitude. It started to make me wonder what kind of costume a Christian should wear. What would be a distinctive costume for a Christian?

So much of what makes us different are concepts and ideas. We can’t exactly “wear” our theology or ethics on our sleeves. But after looking at those short lists above, maybe you were reminded of something. There is a list in the Bible similar to the costumes above, with sword, helmet, breastplate, sandals, shield and belt. These are the garb and armaments of a Roman soldier of Paul’s time, and we find this list in his letter to the Church of Ephesus. It is a letter written while Paul is in prison, guarded by a soldier at all times. But he takes occasion to immortalize the costume of the soldier into a Christian’s suit of armor.

When we look at Ephesians 6:14-18, we see “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (ESV)

I want to encourage you to take up the “costume” of the Christian, so that you can stand up to the powers of darkness that threaten every one of us.

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OOOH, SCARY!

I know it’s become something of a tradition for churches to harp on evil Halloween. You see articles like, “Satan’s Birthday” and “the night when evil reigns.” I think all of these are nonsense. When it comes to special days on the calendar, each Christian should decide for himself what days he chooses to use to honor God.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
(Rom 14:5-6 ESV)

It is true some groups, like Pagans and Wicca put more emphasis on Halloween than Christians do. I’m not saying that’s alright, it’s just a fact. But Halloween is more traditionally the night before a far more important holiday on the church calendar, All Saint’s Day. The Catholics recognize November 1st as the day to honor all the saints. Not a bad idea if you ask me. Because we need to be reminded of Saints, like those mentioned in Hebrews 11: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Samuel, David, Gideon, to name a few. All of these were honored because they were faithful, without ever seeing the Christ in their lifetimes. They believed in Him, and trusted Him. That’s what made them saints.

Halloween then is simply a shortened version of “All Hallow’s Eve.” We say the words all the time when we say, “Hallowed be thy name.” “Hallow” is a word meaning “holy.” “separate” and “special.” Unfortunately, the world has taken what was once a time for meditation and prayer, and made it into a dark and forbidding day, a day to remember and honor evil. That’s sad. And I think it’s high time to take back what is ours. It’s time to make Halloween a holy day again. Make it special. Either by taking your kids out for candy, or spending some time with your spouse by a fire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. This is a special time, as special as Thanksgiving or Christmas, because “this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Rather than shower ridicule and criticism upon those who have made it a celebration of sin, let’s be praying for them, and showering them with mercy and compassion. Satan has no power in the face of God’s love.

This is the love we can share through Christ Jesus. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he give up his life for his friends.” Don’t let another day go by in loneliness and despair. You aren’t alone.