Its that time of year again….
In the UK back in the day, Halloween was a lot more black and white. Quite literally. Where I lived, trick or treating seemed more spiteful and mean spirited than it was fun. I wasn’t opening any doors to any random strangers thank you very much, nor was I knocking on anyone’s door. Was I the only one who grew up hearing the legendary story about the guy who put razor blades in the “treats”? Maybe I was the only one who believed it… Besides it seemed to celebrate the darkness and the sinister. The local newspaper would always have interviews with the local witch, striking an odd pose who yes was casting spells and conducting some random prayer meeting with her coven that weekend. So we Christians had prayer meetings and worship services and fun filled parties for kids in the community so that they didn’t have to break their” don’t- talk- to- or- accept- chocolate- from- strangers ” rule that parents enforced for the other 364 days of the year. It was a fantastic thing. Still, the best story I ever heard was of a friend whose mum didn’t pull her kids out of all the Halloween parties, but sent them in homemade costumes as the Holy Ghost. Although my friend recounted the story with horror, it was my kind of horror movie.
Then we move to the States. Halloween is a whole different vibe here. First it was the decor. Houses would be decorated with ghosts and graveyards and cobwebs. I still find that weird to be honest. But stranger still was seeing entire families dressed up as Disney characters. They’re hanging out with their neighbors and talking to one another and relaxing. Slowing down, taking a day off together. Eating lots and lots of candy. It was like the Holiday Season Kick Off.
Still, for the first few years we just hid away. I had newborns, and I didn’t want people knocking on my door waking them up. I don’t like giving kids yucky candy etc etc. Then one year we decided to hang out on the porch. All the neighbors were out, and we got talking and sharing, and new relationships began. I began to wonder why I sat indoors with the the doors locked and the lights on, if it was so dark outside, you know what I mean?
Truth is I’m still not Halloween’s greatest fan. I don’t dig the scare yourself senseless vibe. I’m not decorating the house with gravestones and skulls anytime soon. I’m wondering why so many of the costumes for women are so ridiculously sexual. The Cinderella I grew up with did not reveal anywhere near that much. And dressing up as a prostitute and her pimp doesn’t make me laugh.
But all the reasons why I locked my door are the reasons why I’m now opening it. If its as dark and twisted as we think, then we shouldn’t we be working out how to engage with our community more rather than hide away? Doesn’t light shine brightest in the dark anyway? Perhaps one day my house will be one of those homes that welcomes all, and hands outs snacks and treats and love as people as that walk around the streets. Perhaps one day they’ll know it as the home with the lights on all year round.
Tonight we’re not going to be singing carols, or screaming Scriptures at people. We’ll not be chastizing witches, and giving zombies dirty looks. But we are going to be hanging out with our friends from the school gate. Sharing time, sharing lives and conversation. Giving kids our well- wrapped- razor- blade- free- not- that- nutritious- chocolate- and- candy. We’ll be admiring the little Buzz Lightyears and Rapunzels and telling them how great they look as they beam with kiddie pride.We’ll be kicking off the holiday season, watching it rise with a thankful heart in November, and find transformation and hope in a manger in December. And through it all we’ll be looking for the people of peace that might want to talk a bit more, that we might want prayer, or simply need a listening ear. Looking for people to love, to bless to, befriend.
Yes its that time of year again. And no, its not my favorite celebration, but it is a missional opportunity. It’s a chance to build relationships and reach out.
And if I have to do that dressed as Cleopatra – then so be it.