This is the 20th anniversary of this film and it is one of those rare movies that is pretty much perfect. It’s a masterpiece. It is also for a slightly older audience, though I’ve watched it with our young son, and he loves it, some of the themes are hard to grasp without a bit of experience under one’s belt. So the concepts we’ll explore here are going to be a bit deeper, but like everything in the Gospel, they will be poignant, precise and accessible.
Jack Skelington is the master of fright, and the “Pumpkin King”, who always makes Halloween Night the scariest it can be. In Halloween Town, every other day’s purpose is to lead up to Halloween. But Jack has found that, though he’s really good at what he does, something is missing from his life, something he needs to feel complete. And he leaves Halloween Town in search of that thing.
This world can often seem pointless and mundane. Though we fill it with events and projects, often great things, when the party is over we can be left with an emptiness. Is this all there is? There must be something that can make this life more… abundant. So we seek that missing thing. Even as Christians, and in our Christian walk we might get to a point where we ask, “Really, Lord? This is all there is to life with you?”
Jack finds a grove with gateway trees in it that take him to other places. There he finds the Christmas Tree. When he enters that place he finds something new, something undeniably wonderful, and it changes him forever. What he finds is Christmas, and it is good. He realizes that THIS is what he wants in his life, in his world. This is worth giving up everything he has in Halloween Town to make it his.
Jesus tells us that The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Treasure in a field. When a man finds it, he knows it is worth everything he has. So the man goes home, sells EVERYTHING he owns, and uses the money from his stuff to buy the field so that the treasure can be his. Wow. Let’s think about that for ourselves. Does God’s Kingdom strike you as that valuable? Have YOU, found it to be so pleasing, so beautiful and desirable that you would and have forsaken all you call yours to make the Kingdom yours? If not, then you haven’t yet seen it’s worth, if so, then you’d never turn back.
So, what did Jack do next? Two things we need to see. The first, he allowed Christmas to flip his life upside down. Second, he told EVERYONE about this wonderful thing, Christmas. When he does tell them, some of them get it, Sally for one, but for the rest of them, they just don’t get it… Jack tries to make it “relevant” so they will want it. Uh oh…
So, first, Jack does what is right with Christmas and makes it the primary part of his life. And second, he shared the Message, this is awesome! Jack became the first Christmas missionary, and he did it to his own people, how intra-cultural of him! As believers, we can relate to how the Gospel of the Kingdom has flipped our lives upside down… and hopefully we are so transformed that people say, “Something’s up with Jack.” That is, they notice that we are changed before we say a word. Then, we tell them in our excitement. Sometimes this is well received, and they say, “That is what I have been looking for, too!” But often we hear, “I don’t get it, why is this so revolutionary?” People hear about the elements of the Kingdom, particularly about some of the virtues and disciplines of the new life and they don’t see how it’s so great. Jack spiced things up a bit when he told them about Santa Claus… I mean, “Sandy Claws”.
Jack felt like Christmas, and more importantly, Santa Claus, would not be seen as desirable to the people of Halloween Town. He cast his pearls before swine. That is, he shared the ways of Christmas, the lights, the snow, the presents, with people that didn’t know those things were good. When the people rejected Christmas, he changed it to be relevant to them… to make Santa more desirable. Santa Claus is this story’s stand-in for Jesus. Do we try to make Jesus “Buddy Jesus?” Is Christ our “Homeboy”? Or do we present Him as the Bible does? Our perfect LORD and Savior. If we present Him in any other way, then we are not sharing the Gospel. And the True Kingdom will not expand for our effort.
Back to Halloween Town. Things get twisted here as a result of Jack’s misrepresentation of Christmas, and Santa. Christmas becomes an abomination. Children around the world are plagued by the Nightmare. Jack asks himself, “What have I done…?” And he realizes, he is not a substitute for Santa! Jack allows Santa to take his rightful place in the sleigh and Christmas is saved. I like Santa’s response to Jack when Jack asks if he can fix everything, “Of course I can, I’m Santa Claus!”
When we share the Gospel, we need to remember, it’s not about us, and it’s not about the other person, it is all about Jesus. If we say anything extra-biblical, we better support it with Scripture, or we’re preaching a false Gospel. There are many cults based on Jesus, but their “Jesus” is not The Christ of God. And their religion is as mixed up and irreverent as the Halloween-Christmas.
But at the end, something special happens. Jack concedes Christmas to its rightful ruler, and all is made right. Not only that, Jack becomes inspired by it all to make Halloween even better. Years and years later, Jack and Santa are still close friends. Santa and Christmas are irrevocably linked to Halloween Town now, and it is better for it.
When we concede our lives and our world to the lordship of Jesus Christ, a new thing is happening, we are inspired and we bring with us the Kingdom of God wherever we go. That’s what it means to be Salt & Light to the World. Most importantly, we are friends with Jesus for years and years, forever and ever. That is the abundant life we were promised.
- When Jack finds Christmas Town he realized that what he found is so special that it is worth giving up everything to make it his own. How is Christmas Town like the Kingdom of God? What is the Kingdom of God, where is it? (A whole lot of Matthew)
- Jack shared Christmas town with all of the inhabitants of Halloween Town. But when they didn’t get it, he lied about it, to make it more desirable to them, and what they ended up with was not Christmas at all. It was a monstrosity. When we tell others about Jesus, and the Kingdom of God, we must be sure to tell them what the Bible says about it and not worry about how it is received. If they see it for what it truly is, then it will be irresistible. (Galatians 1:6-9)
- One of the most difficult verses in the Bible is one that says, “…the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent (people) take it by force. ” and I’ve heard many people try to explain what it means. I think the images of the Halloween Town’s folk making Christmas their own is a powerful visual of it. If Christmas represents the Kingdom of God, consider the passion and force used to make it part of their lives. Do you passionately grasp at the Kingdom of God, so that is can become an indelible part of your daily life? (Matthew 11:12)
- At the end, it began to snow in Halloween Town. This is something completely new to them, and a sign that Christmas has come. When the Kingdom of God appears, what are the signs? (Repentance, Healing/Sanctification, Hope, Love). (Isaiah 43:19, Romans 14:17, Acts 8:12, Mark 1:15)