Today I wondered how the early Christians reacted to the news of Paul’s passing. How about those closest to him—the ones who were his partners in the gospel? Did the Philippians remember Paul’s letter to them—how he desired to "depart and be with Christ" (Philippians 1:23, ESV)—and then celebrate the fact he finally was granted his wish? Did Timothy smile and think about the "crown of righteousness" his mentor received because he "fought the good fight…finished the race…kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7-8)?
No, I suspect that their initial reaction to hearing that Paul had finally paid the ultimate price for preaching the gospel in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2) was the same as mine this morning at the news that Graham Maxwell had passed away overnight. Paul’s death was not unexpected; he specifically told Timothy he did not have long—that the "time of [his] departure [had] come" (2 Timothy 4:6). Neither was Graham’s a surprise—his family saw how he was losing the battle with age and were by his side during his final moments.
Should Christians celebrate Halloween? Travis Allen, Internet Ministry Manager for Grace to You, has an informative and thoughtful answer to that question in his article, “Christians and Halloween.” Although his punch line is that “ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God,” the article also shares some fairly surprising origins for some of our Halloween traditions (for instance, did you know that “bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world’s ‘blessings’ on a couple’s romance”?)
Personally, I tend to agree with Travis’ advice on the holiday, both in the “punch line” I shared above (see Romans 14:5, 23) and this:
There’s another option open to Christians: limited, non-compromising participation in Halloween. There’s nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children–provided you’re not stingy–can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.
What do you think…”trick or treat” or “avoid like the plague”?
P.S. In case you are interested, my sermon this past Sunday, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” was about how Christians should view ghosts…