It’s not every day you see Spider-Man on Hele Road

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

One Sunday evening back in May 2020 (during the first lockdown), I came out of the Light House, the building next to our church, having just led an online worship service over zoom, to be confronted with the surprising sight that you certainly don’t see every day on Hele Road:  Spider-Man, out for his evening walk!  

Whether he was on his nightly crime-fighting vigil, or simply heading up to Farm Foods to replenish his dwindling supply of toilet rolls, he didn’t say, but as he sauntered past me and we exchanged pleasantries, I thought that whoever it was inside the superhero’s suit, they’d certainly made the effort. The costume looked like the real deal; perhaps it really was Spider-Man?   

All across the Bay this weekend, there will be scores of people in seasonal costumes, be it Ghoulish Gertie the witch, Gandalf the wizard, or even Harry Potter, going from house to house, hoping to return home with armfuls of chocolate and sweet treats.   

However, not everyone thinks through the implications of wearing a particular fancy-dress costume. Several years ago, a thirty year old man from Lansing, Michigan in the United States, thought it would be a good idea to go to his friend’s Halloween party dressed as an armed robber, complete with a skull mask, bulletproof vest and fake firearm.   

Several hours and more than a few drinks later, the man, whilst walking home from the night’s revelries still in his costume, decided to stop at his local Starbucks for a coffee to help sober him up.   

But when confronted with an apparent armed-robber, customers screamed and the cashier triggered the store alarm; and when the police arrived, despite the man pleading his innocence, he was arrested and charged with menacing and disorderly conduct!   

According to the website of the History Channel, the origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was usually celebrated on October 31 & November 1, and was a time to welcome in the completed harvest and prepare for what was considered “the dark half of the year”.  T 

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he falling leaves of autumn, along with the long winter nights that lay ahead caused the thoughts of our ancestors to be focused on decay, death and darkness.   

Today, one key element that Halloween commemorates is the power of darkness & the existence of evil. However, although those of us who are Christians acknowledge the reality of such things, we also remind ourselves that when the Bible contrasts evil with goodness, darkness with light, it doesn’t treat them as equals.  

Unlike the message of the classic sci-fi film, Star Wars, where the forces of darkness and light are reckoned to be of roughly equal power, the Bible reminds me that when the light of the goodness of God shines, then the darkness must retreat.   

You and I are given a simple visual reminder of this truth every time we enter a dark room and turn on the light switch.   

The apostle John, in one of his New Testament letters, tells believers that “the Son of God came to destroy all the evil works of the devil”.  And in his gospel, John writes, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”   

Ultimately, these Scriptural references about illumination point us to the Lord Jesus, who says of himself in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world! Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.   

I guess that this means for me, as a simple follower of Jesus, rather than celebrate the dark deeds of Dracula, Pennywise the dancing clown or Freddy Krueger this weekend, I’ll instead take the time to thank my heavenly Father for all the benefits I’ve received through knowing the love & friendship of His Son, of whom we will soon be singing about in a couple of months’ time: “Light and life to all He brings”.