1 John 4:1 – Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. (NIV)
October 31: I'm walking around my neighbourhood and am horrified. Just about every third house has some type of Halloween display. Some are exceptionally elaborate. One woman told me she had been working on her "display" for a month! My neighbour had a row of crosses as grave markers, complete with "R.I.P.", in his front lawn, plus eerie lighting and recorded moans and howls. When I suggested he had gone a bit overboard, he chatted about things like "harmless fun for kids", "neighbourhood fun", and suggested I "catch the spirit."
I don't think so! What spirit would you like me to catch?
Today's scripture verse tells us to test the spirits. The world of the first-century church was very aware of evil spirits, often ascribing to them the reason for illness and disease. The same first-century church was a witness to the power of the Spirit of God, and of the Spirit's coming to earth, clothed in human flesh, as Jesus of Nazareth, Emmanuel, God with us.
Every since I was a small child, I have loved the coloured lights of Christmas. I'm distressed to see coloured lights, which we've come to associate with Christmas, used for something like Halloween.
John 8:12 – When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (NIV)
Decorating our houses and apartments with lights is a seasonal tradition. More than that, I think it turns our homes into seasonal beacons. It says to the neighbourhood and to the world: the Son of Man would be welcome here!
John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. (GNB)
There is darkness all around us this season and this year — and much more than just a lack of sunlight. Turning on the television may treat children to a moral sewer, under the guise of a talk show. As for the computer, one may wonder if some parts of the World Wide Web are nothing more than a digital septic tank.
My house was dark on Halloween. No lights, no carved pumpkins. What I will do this Advent is take the light-decorations that have been used and loved in my family for years, and hang them yet again in the front window, letting their light shine upon the world, as if to say, "We're shining for the one true light, who comes to earth, this season."
Prayer: Lord, help us remember that we are all your children, and we are called to be children of the light. In the mad rush and crush of this holy and hectic season, let us remember You, and why You came to be with us on earth. Amen.