Sunday, November 2, 2014
This Halloween, Give Grace a Chance
By: N. Jeter
With a hammer in one hand and a large scroll under his arm, Martin Luther approached the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. He paused to take a couple of nails from a pouch hidden in the folds of his dark woolen habit then began pounding his 95 theses to the church’s heavy wooden doors.
The date was October 31, 1517 and the event changed the course of human history.
Luther’s protest was not against ghosts and goblins or children dressing up to trick-or-treat. He chose All Hallow’s Eve because it was the night before All Saints’ Day, a day when most of Wittenberg’s inhabitants would be in church. It was good advertising.
This was not the United States of America where freedom of speech is protected as a Constitutional right. The Catholic Church was the supreme authority in the land: those who went against the Church did so at the peril of their lives.
What prompted this act of courage and defiance on Luther’s part?
As Luther studied Scripture, his eyes were opened to a new concept: the concept of God’s grace. Passion burned inside him as he read verses like Ephesians 2:8-9:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
The established Church in Luther’s day misled people into thinking they could be saved by their own works through pilgrimages, confessions and by purchasing indulgences, which were basically “get out of hell free” cards. It became clear to Luther that men could not purchase God’s grace: it was freely given. This conviction led him to write out 95 main points of contention with the Catholic Church, his “thesis,” which he ended up nailing to the door of the church in Wittenberg.
Today many Christians debate the proper stance to take toward Halloween. Some believe that the holiday glorifies witchcraft and evil, while others see it simply as innocent fun. One of Satan’s most successful tactics is to incite Christians to fight each other on matters of doctrine. Perhaps we would do better this October 31 to focus on what is most important to God, just like Martin Luther did on that fateful day in history.
Luther was determined. He was passionate. He was willing to sacrifice his credentials, social status, even his life for the sake of sharing the news about God’s saving grace. The words of Romans 10:14 struck him at the core:
“And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
Are you willing to make similar sacrifices to bring people from darkness to light?
Taking It to the Streets
Here are some ideas for taking God’s grace to the streets this Halloween.
Organize a prayerwalk around your neighborhood. Before the night falls and costumed children begin their quest for candy and fun, walk around your neighborhood alone or with friends, praying that the children will be protected from physical and emotional harm inside and outside their homes. Pray that the people in your neighborhood might be brought from darkness to light.
Be a Witness. How will they hear unless they are told? Halloween provides a great chance to plant seeds for the Gospel. It’s like door-to-door witnessing in reverse: the lost come to you! Try slipping in a kid-friendly tract along with any candy you distribute. And be friendly: these are likely to be kids from your neighborhood. You may not recognize them out of costume tomorrow but they’ll sure recognize you!
Organize a Neighborhood Party. Provide a “holy” alternative celebration for children and adults in your neighborhood. Consider hosting a “Reformation Day Celebration” in commemoration of Martin Luther’s brave act or a “Harvest Party” that celebrates the things we love most about fall.
Lend a Hand. Many churches organize Halloween alternatives but need help from volunteers to decorate, bring candy, or to help out at the event. Join in their efforts to provide good, clean fun.
Luther’s brave act was like a bolt of lightning rending the midnight sky. Now it’s your turn to do something revolutionary: give someone the gift of God’s grace this Halloween.