This weekend my family and I were riding to a fall festival in the next state and we had an interesting conversation. Our church has decided to have a fall festival this year, and are extending it beyond our church family to our surrounding community. As this is an outreach, the people organizing it decided that they didn't want it associated in any way with Halloween, and therefore have asked that the children not dress up. I understand the importance of the church keeping these two things separate, but my children, who have only ever attended this event at their church, were very disappointed that it was going to be so different.
A couple of years ago, our church did not have a fall festival. I think there has always been some tension - some think the children should dress up and others think it too Halloween-y. One well meaning woman suggested that our children be allowed to dress only as animals or Bible characters. This was the topic of our family discussion.
The first and most dramatic point of that discussion was that the Bible was full of characters that were not at all wholesome. For instance, Satan is a character that appears in the very first book of the Bible. Among others we listed were serpents, Cain - the murder, Rahab - the prostitute, David and Bathsheba - partners in adultery, Goliath - a monster, Saul, Pharoah or the death angel that passed over and struck the firstborn of Egypt, Lot's daughters, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention, what costume would you wear if you decided to dress up as Adam and Eve before the fall??? That wouldn't go over very well anywhere, much less at a church sponsored event.
It was interesting to think about how the Bible is not a baby's bedtime story book, but a book filled with rich history which is not always beautiful. It is an annal of war for the Jewish nation. It is a gory, and bloody book of crime and passion. It is a book full of sinful people living in a fallen world. And although the prevailing message is of a scarlet thread of redemption from Adam to Jesus Christ and extended to each of us - there are people all along the way who distort that message.
On another interesting note, during the pagan rituals that originated what eventually intertwined with Catholic traditionto become Halloween, the participants wore animal masks!!!