The Jack-O'-Lantern Legend
The legend of the Jack-O'-Lantern comes from Ireland from about the 18th century. With some variations the basis of the Jack-O'-Lantern is as follows:
There was a stingy drunkard of an Irishman named Jack; who tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree. Then Jack quickly cut the sign of a cross into the trunk of the tree; thereby preventing the Devil from climbing down. Jack made the Devil swear that he wouldn't ever come after Jack's soul again or claim it in any way. However, this did not stop Jack from dying and when he did he was not allowed into Heaven, because of his life of drinking, being tightfisted and being deceitful. And because of the oath the Devil had taken Jack was not allowed into Hell either. "But where can I go?" asked Jack. "Back where you came from!" replied the Devil. The way back was windy and dark. The Devil, as a final gesture, threw a live coal at Jack straight from the fire of Hell. To light his way and to keep it from blowing out in the wind Jack put it in a turnip he was eating. Ever since Jack and his "lantern" has been traveling over the face of the earth looking for a place to rest.
Take a pumpkin. "You aren't a pumpkin, but all of us are something like one." Talk about how a pumpkin is like us: it has an outside and an inside. The outside is what people see. The inside is like our soul or our heart. A pumpkin left to itself will soon rot and die. We will die some day too."
Carve out eyes and a small "o" shaped mouth. As you make the holes and pull out the pieces of rind, ask people what they see inside (yucky stuff). "This is what we look like to others and what we are like when are hearts are not changed. The hearts of men are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live (Ecclesiastes 9:3). How can we get rid of this icky stuff?"
"God is the only one who can change our heart. But in order for God to change our heart we must become open to him." Carve an opening in the top of the pumpkin big enough to put your hand through. You might want to quote Revelation 3:20: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Put in your hand and pull out the insides. Talk about the cross and Jesus was willing to become messy for us, so that we might be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new hart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my aws. (Ezekiel 36:25b-27).
"But if we leave a pumpkin with just the insides taken out, then it's just hollow. We need to have a light inside that will truly make us alive! Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' Add a light to the inside of the pumpkin. "When Jesus lives inside of you, you can glow! You will want to be kind and honest. You will want to please God, to help others, and to tell other people about your Friend and Lord."
At this point you might want to carve the mouth into a smile!
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