Many in America will celebrate Halloween this week. What some of you may not know, is that Halloween is also Reformation Day. We decided several years ago that we wanted to have a fun “Halloween alternative” for all the kids in our church. It was also to push some of our adults to study and learn about the Reformation. As a result, “Reformation Celebration” at Auburndale Baptist Church began. We just celebrated our 8th Reformation Celebration this past Saturday.
It is designed to allow kids to enjoy all the fun that comes with Halloween (candy, costumes, etc.), but refocus what we are learning, wearing, and doing around the Reformation. Adults can come dressed up also, but they must dress up as something that involves the Reformation. Just to give an example, I have dressed up in previous years as: Martin Luther, the 95 theses, a heretic being burned at the stake, an unknown pastor in prison for preaching the gospel, and last year…I came as the diet of worms (gummy worms and plastic forks glued on a shirt). This year I came as “the door” to which the 95 theses was nailed. I have been impressed with the creativity of our adults through the years.
The theme for this year revolved around Hugh Latimer, one of the great Oxford Martyrs. The evening revolves around 4 events:
1) Prison Testimony. We decorate a room in the church like a prison, then we lead all the kids into the room for the “prisoner” to share with them why he is in prison. We have had “prison talks” throughout the years by Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Bunyan, and two years ago our first woman was Lady Jane Gray (the teenage Queen of England and Christian Martyr). William Tyndale made an appearance last year and this year…Hugh Latimer showed up. Someone in our church dresses up as the character and does an amazing job of sharing their story (with the proper accent), then allows the kids to ask questions. It is very well done and powerful.
2) A Reformation Craft. This is a craft that teaches them something about the reformation and as they make it, someone is telling them a story about why, whatever it is they are making, is significant to the Reformation. This year’s craft revolved around Hugh Latimer’s famous words to his dear friend as he is being led to be burned:
“Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out. ”
3) A Reformation Snack. This is a snack that someone in the church makes and they tell a story about it as the kids eat the snack. For example, one year chocolate indulgences were made and what an indulgence was in the 16th century is explained as they eat one. This year’s snack may be the best yet. It is pictured above and represents where Latimer was burned at the stake.
4) The Reformation Games. The final leg of the activities are games that kids play and are rewarded with candy for participation. Each game they learn something else about the Reformation. The games this year are: Nail the 95 theses to the door (like pin the tail on the donkey with velcro), smash the indulgences, bowl down the heretic, gospel golf, the cross toss, and a favorite of the kids…rescue the drowning martyr, which closely resembles bobbing for apples. Kids leave with more candy than could be collected if given 2 hours to roam through the neighborhoods around the church.
This is how we teach the reformation in our church to our kids and I encourage you to do as well. The recovery of the gospel, having Bibles to read in our own language, and the blessing now to gather as local churches all points back to the courageous efforts of the reformers and Christian martyrs of the past. It is worth teaching our children and celebrating!
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