OUT OF THE DARKNESS 10-29-17

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

October 29th, 2017

               There is a song by Crosby and Nash written in 1976 with the title “Out of the Darkness”.  The lyrics include:  “Out of the darkness, suddenly my body can take a breath.  I'm coming out of the darkness, finally my soul can take a rest.  Here in the light a lazy mist is lifting, and the sands of time are slowly shifting, into the glass with the hours that pass.  Be the light or love will fade away. Be the light or love will fade away.”  But despite its life-affirming message, the song signaled the beginning of David Crosby's drug odyssey, and was "answered" by the Gram Nash song, "Into the Darkness", which starts out with these words: “Into the darkness soon you'll be sinking. What are you doing? What can you be thinking? All of your friends have been trying to warn you that some of your demons are dying to drag you away (Into the darkness) into the darkness. Into the darkness away”, and the song ends with “Stay out of the darkness. Out of the darkness stay.”

          The darkness that we are talking about today, is not the absence of physical light.  It is the darkness of the spirit, which is the absence of the light of Christ. And it is the presence of the demonic forces that not only inhabit the spiritual realm of darkness, but do all in their power to draw you into it.

          A couple of weeks ago Randy asked me about putting up Halloween decorations in the church.  As I also told him last year, while I am fine with celebrating autumn, and harvest, I do not approve of decorations that include such things as witches, skeletons, and zombies.  While most people consider Halloween traditions as nothing more than harmless fun, we must remember what such things symbolize, their roots, and what message our careless use of them is putting out to the world.

          In Old Testament times, witches were put to death.  While I pray there is no nowhere that this would be done today, as we now live under grace and not O.T. Law, there was a reason God was so adamant about ‘not allowing a witch to live’ (Exodus 22:18), as well as mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead.  God uses the term “spiritual prostitution” for those who practice the black arts (Leviticus 20:6).   Nowadays we joke about witchcraft, we say some of it is “white”, and we even glamorize it and make it appealing, especially to young women and even teens.  From “Bewitched” in my younger days, to more current movies and TV shows such as “The Craft” and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (as well as many others), Satan uses the entertainment industry to either entice us to crave the power he offers, or become oblivious to its potential and write it off as fiction and fantasy.     

          And how about the current fascination with zombies?  The movie “Night of the Living Dead” from back in 1968 was one of the scariest horror films of its day.  Now we have the TV series “The Walking Dead” that millions of viewers have faithfully followed for seven seasons.  Although modern depictions of zombies often invoke science fictional methods of bringing the dead to life such as  radiation, viruses, and scientific accidents; zombies were originally the result of Haitian voodoo. 

          Skeletons, when not used to study anatomy or marvel at God’s creative design, are a celebration of death and decay.  The Bible even uses dry bones to describe spiritual lifelessness and the restoration of life that only comes through God’s Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 37). 

          Vampires subsist on blood, as even the Bible says that “the life of the body is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11), but O.T. law forbade the eating of blood of any creature, much less that of humans (vs. 12).   And by glamorizing a thirst for human blood, we are mocking the blood that Christ shed on the cross for our sins. 

          And what about the origin of the day itself?  Halloween started out as Celtic festival spelled S-A-M-H-A-I-N, but pronounced sow-in.  It was the night when the veil between the living and dead grew thin, and spirits of the underworld as well as the spirits of dead would visit the living, and offerings to appease them needed to be made.   Many divination rituals were also performed on that night.  The Catholic church celebrated All Hallows Eve the same night in an attempt to Christianize it, since it was the night before All Saints Day.  But one need only look at the vast array of Halloween decorations, costumes, and customs of today to see that it has nothing to do with honoring the righteous, but rather pays tribute to all is part of the darkness.

And so in regards to Halloween decorations in the church, for the sake of those whose souls the Lord has entrusted me with, I had to say “no”.  For the Bible not only urges Christians to “abstain from all appearance of evil” in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, but the apostle Paul in speaking of the leaders of the church said, “we put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited” (2 Corinthians 6:3). 

          Yes, we can have a pumpkin patch party and share in food and games.  Yes, we can even dress up as animals, cowboys, your favorite superhero, or anything else that is not evil in origin.  But God has called us out of the darkness and expects us to live as children of the light.  Amen. 

 

CHILDREN'S MESSAGE:

S'mores, sunshine, and apple cider;  

Or scary ghosts and a giant spider?

Loving hearts and smiling faces;

Or zombies creeping in dark places?

Which of these would you choose?

And which of them are bad news?