Have you ever watched a hurdling event in track and field sports? Participants compete by running a race that incorporates obstacles—hurdles—which the runners must clear.
This time of year reminds me of hurdling events. Before I can celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, I must clear the hurdle of Halloween.
Halloween has become a day when all things scary take center stage. Vampires and ghouls, witches and goblins are all celebrated. Harmless fun? That’s what our culture wants us to believe. And in 2019, Halloween spending reached $8.8 billion.
What our culture neglects to tell us is that Halloween is a holy day for Wiccan followers. Its origins trace back to Celtic traditions. Samhain, the lord of death, was believed to send evil spirits to attack the living. People escaped by donning disguises to look like other evil spirits. Even today, Halloween encourages the worship of Samhain in darker circles where witchcraft is practiced.
But once we get past this dark holiday, we move from October into November with its emphasis on an attitude of thanksgiving. From there it’s a short leap into December and Christmas. From the celebration of all things evil to the celebration of gratitude. From a focus on darkness to a focus on the birth of the light of the world.
However, first we have to cross the hurdle of Halloween.
The hurdles of life
The order of these holidays is a picture of life, too. We live in a broken, sin-sick world, where sorrows and trials abound. But these experiences do not have the last word.
How easy it is to forget that sorrow is temporary. There will come a time for every Christian when we will cross the hurdle of death. From our earthly perspective, death seems more like a black hole than a hurdle. It appears to be a monster that swallows us in a final, terrifying end. But death is not the end. It merely connects our physical life with the joy of eternal life with the Lord in heaven.
Light and joy are waiting on the other side of death. Death cannot swallow a child of God because Christ has already swallowed death (I Corinthians 15:54). And the Christian does not cross this hurdle alone. David understood this assurance when he declared the Lord is with us even in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).
So don’t be discouraged by the evil associations of Halloween. Regardless of its dark origins, this day will never block the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas. With grateful hearts, we eagerly look to the celebration of the birth of the One who conquered death.