It was Eleanor Roosevelt who coined the oft-quoted phrase that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. In dark times people get inspired by this and use it to motivate action against observed evil in the world. Social reformers have been inspired by this simple belief for centuries.

With this in mind how many of us are perplexed by the celebration of Halloween? Darkness and fear are celebrated in an apparent reversal of roles. Is it to mock the darkness and its attempts to overwhelm us?

The Christian message, by stark contrast, is all about light overcoming the darkness. John’s Gospel opens with the encouraging words “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”. John uses this to introduce the coming of Jesus: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world”. (John chapter 1: 5,8 NIV) We shall be celebrating this very soon with Advent.

Happily, Halloween is immediately followed by All Saints Day when we celebrate the good that comes through the light, and people of the light. It reinforces the notion that the light overcomes the darkness. When light comes darkness flees. They cannot coexist.

Better to light a candle?