Most, if not all, holidays we celebrate have pagan roots. Easter and Christmas, both, were around before Christianity and were celebrated as pagan worship festivals. But with the spread of Christianity in the early centuries of the Church together with Christianity becoming (sort of) the official religion of Rome under Constantine's rule, many pagan holidays were Christianized. Thought and strategy went into re-working these holidays for the sake of spreading the Gospel.
Everyone knows that Halloween is a pagan holiday. That's no surprise. The Catholic Church did it's best to re-work it by calling it "All-Saints Day," but in the end, it's a holiday that celebrates dead people rather than somehow promoting the story of God's Plan of Redemption.
Some Christians take their kids and hide in the back room with the house lights doused so trick-or-treaters will think no one's home. The thinking there is that we should give no glory to the devil on his greatest day of the year. But I think hiding in a dark room is right where the devil wants Christ's followers to be.
Some churches throw a big party to give members' kids an alternative as well as provide a safe place to bring little pagan kids to hear the gospel. That's cool.
I like to stay home and ham it up on Halloween. It's the one chance a year I get to meet all my neighbors. The holiday delivers them right to my doorstep. I don't even have to leave the house. I fill their bags with candy and compliment their little demonic costumes with the hope that I'll have a rapport with them in my neighborhood the other 364 days of the year (365 on leap years).
Another modern pagan holiday is the Super Bowl. That's right, sports fans, the Super Bowl is a "Holy" day in America. Don't deny it. Those football stars are to us what gladiators were to the Romans. In our community, churches are using the occasion to promote caring for the less fotunate by throwing Super Bowl parties and raising cash for the soup kitchens and places that feed the homeless. It's called the "Souper Bowl of Caring." It's a great way to redeem and retrain the way we look at holidays that focus on materialism and commercialism and exploit consumerism.
So what about the pagan holiday being planned for and celebrated today, April 20 (4/20), by American Collegiate, Hip-Hop, and Bong-Hit Culture? It's celebrated as a day of binge-partying that will be fun for most, and disastorous for a few. Some freaks will celebrate Hitler's 118 birthday today. Today will also be remembered as the day that the Columbine shooting spree was brought to us by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in 1999. What a week to be thinking about that.
So how do we redeem this pagan holiday and help people to think about preaching the gospel to the poor? Any ideas?
Here's one: this Sunday is Compassion Sunday. What if everyone celebrated this holiday of decadence by picking up a Compassion packet and helping to support a kid in a third world country. I'm shooting from the hip here, but that sounds like a good idea to me. If Compassion picked the Sunday closest to 4/20 on purpose, that's brilliant. If not, they should claim it and capitalize on it.
Let's help 'em.
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