We believe in a God that prevails over fear, evil, and death. We can laugh at scary costumes because we know that evil, death, and fear do not have the ultimate power.
Taking Back Halloween
The Rev. Sarah Phelps has offered a “Blessing of the Halloween Costumes” at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Wake Forest, NC for the last three years. Sarah explains that many people in more religiously conservative areas are told that dressing up for Halloween is wrong, that celebrating Halloween pays tribute to Satan.
In blessing Halloween costumes in church, Sarah offers a different narrative about Halloween, telling children (and adults) that celebrating Halloween and dressing up in costumes does not threaten our faith. We believe in a God that prevails over fear, evil, and death. We can laugh at scary costumes because we know that evil, death, and fear do not have the ultimate power. In fact, part of the history of Halloween includes people’s attempt to chase away or keep at bay evil and bad spirits (read more about the history of Halloween in this post from Sharon Ely Pearson!).
Furthermore, celebrating Halloween at church serves to draw a strong connection between our faith and “secular” holidays, minimizing the separation between Sunday morning and the rest of the week.
How To Offer a Blessing of Halloween Costumes
At St. John’s, everyone is invited to wear a Halloween costume to church on the Sunday before Halloween. During the announcements, Sarah invites those who dressed up to come forward for a blessing. She reminds the whole congregation that these costumes do not threaten our faith and speaks briefly about the history of Halloween and our belief in a God who ultimately triumphs over evil, fear, and death. Then she offers a blessing such as:
Holy God, giver of life, we know you are ruler over all things that make us fearful. You triumph over the evils in our world, and you raise your people to life again after death. As the One who created us, we know it makes you glad to hear us laugh, and to watch us play. So, we ask you to bless all here today who have dressed up in their Halloween costumes. Bless all who will go out “trick-or-treating” this week. Let their laughter and the wholesome fun they enjoy be a sign to all who do not know you, that your Love reigns over all things in heaven and on earth. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Special thanks to The Rev. Sarah Phelps who we interviewed for this post! Sarah serves as Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina. She is married to Michael Phelps – no, not the Olympic swimmer, but a pretty great guy nonetheless – and they have a young son, Sam, who is the light of their lives.