I called up a good friend of mine the other day, a good Christian friend I might add. In fact, he's one of those people I'm usually a bit shy to approach because he really seems to "get" the whole part of the Bible about dying to yourself, loving your enemies and discipling all nations.
I couldn't quite contain my enthusiasm as I told him breathlessly that I was going to put my foot down and do something about that abominable pagan holiday.
"What?" he said. "You're going to stop celebrating Christmas because it originated in a pagan festival?"
I sat there a moment with my mouth hanging open, but recovered nicely.
"Oh, there you go, being the devil's advocate again," I laughed. "I know, I know, yes there's some of that history to Christmas, but it's about the heart, isn't it. And when I trim the tree and buy gifts, I am firmly focused on Jesus."
Even as I said the words, I felt an inward cringe that told me this wasn't entirely true, but I did want to get on to my real announcement.
"Actually, I'm going to do something about Halloween," I nearly shouted. "We Christians just can't sit still while people run around dressed up like witches and coming to our doors extorting us for candy, now can we?"
"Oh, well, when you put it that way, it makes sense, I suppose," my friend started. "For a second I was thinking how Halloween began as a celebration of the night before All Saints Day, which honors those who have worked and even died for the cause of Jesus over the years."
I rolled my eyes.
"There you go again," I said. "You're forgetting we need to look at the heart. You can't be telling me the people ringing my doorbell at midnight are thinking about glorifying God, now can you?"
"Well, no more than I can tell you the people who run around in clerical collars extorting you about the church building fund are thinking about glorifying God," my friend mused.
Maybe, I thought, I was being a bit kind thinking of him as the devil's advocate. Perhaps they were a bit closer than that.
"Let's not get into all of that!" I said impatiently. "Don't you want to hear how I plan to recapture Halloween for Jesus?"
I took the silence on the phone as permission to continue.
I related how I had gotten a large bucket of apples to hand out at my door this Halloween.
"After all, we want to be known for promoting healthy snacks," I said. "And the apple connotes, you know, Christian themes."
"But here's the beauty of it! With every apple I give them a tract explaining who Jesus is and how they ask Him to become their Lord and Savior!"
The triumph gradually died out of my voice as my friend remained silent.
Then he said slowly, "So, you kind of 'trick' them into your house with the apple so you can give them the REAL treat?"
"EXACTLY!" I breathed. "Oh, I KNEW you'd understand!"
I was so thrilled with my plan I don't remember even saying goodbye as I hung up the phone and completed my preparations.
The evening started off well, with a half-dozen costumed characters falling into my trap. I could visualize them returning home, looking through their bags of goodies and finding this attractive leaflet that would transform their lives. I could hardly wait until next year when they would return to my doorstep with testimonies about how Christ was working in their lives!
The number of callers gradually slacked off, even before 9 p.m. So I wandered onto my porch to look for my next victims.
It was then that I heard a little black witch's voice wafting sweetly through the air.
"Don't bother, they're Christians," she announced.
And an oncoming troop of goblins, monsters and television cartoon characters stopped in midstride, turned and shuffled noisily toward the next house.
And as I looked at the swirling leaves at their feet, I noticed a fair number of attractive leaflets ebbing and flowing with the evening breeze.
Well, I thought a bit sadly, I accomplished something in true, Halloween fashion.
I scared them off.
And as I started to take a bite of one of what would be many, many apples, the thought came to me, unbidden: