Summary: Halloween is a fun time that permeates our culture.... and it also has its dark and sinister side. Yet even Halloween’s dark side pales compared to an even worse threat of the occult in our nation.

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OPEN: Tomorrow is October 31st. It is best known as the day of Halloween, but it also the day on which other significant events have taken place.

· In 1938 Orson Welles broadcast his famous “War of the Worlds” that caused much of the United States to become panicked by the possibility that Mars might be invading the world.

· Houdini died on this date in 1926.

· And in 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis (questions) which challenged many of the teachings of the Catholic Church on a church door in Wittenberg. In many protestant churches this day is called “Reformation Day”.

But as significant as those events in history have been… this is still the season of “Halloween”. It is a pervasive holiday. In fact, Halloween has literally become a national holiday.

Only Christmas out-earns Halloween.

Only New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday out-party it.

During this time of year, our children can hardly get away from it.

It’s part of almost all their cartoons. It’s included in nearly all the shows they might watch. It’s advertised excessively not only on TV, but also in WalGreens, Wal-Mart, and at the local grocery store. Kids from the neighborhood traipse up and down the street wearing all kinds of outfits, laughing, collecting candy and… frankly having a lot of fun.

But there is a dark side to this “holiday.”

A&E recently had an hour long program describing the pagan background for much of the activities that traditionally are part of decorations and activities at this time of year.

A lot of kids dress up like cult-figures - demons, witches, and ghouls and goblins.

Many of the TV programs and movies at this time of year focus on death and dismemberment in the most horrid of ways.

AND Police report on a large number of animals who are often ritually sacrificed every year on this date.

It’s BECAUSE of this dark side of Halloween that my kids have never gone “Trick or Treating”. That’s also why many churches attempt to offer counter-celebrations that try to divert their children away from the dark side… and point toward the light. One of our sister churches has a celebration they call their “Holy Ghost Weiner Roast.” Another church I heard of has a “Fools For Christ” Festivity, and still another has a “Touched By An Angel” activity where their kids dress up like angels and hand out tracts throughout the neighborhood.

Our congregation has HarvestFest. It’s a celebration that still offers the fun of costumes and candy and games, but plays down the wicked side of the season. Kids were politely asked NOT to wear demonic outfits (in fact, they won’t win prizes if they do). Our children’s minister Greg Peck gives a devotion that focused on Jesus as our “light” who has overcome the darkness of this world. And we view this as a great opportunity to reach out to our community while giving our own kids a chance to have good clean fun. It’s a chance for us to talk to others about Jesus and what He does for our lives.

I. But this time of year also gives me an excellent opportunity to talk about something a whole lot more dangerous than letting our kids go “trick or treating.”

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