East of Eden
It's that time of year again...
At High Hill Farms in Virginia.
Just a week after K and I married, we took my nephews, Justin and Nate trick-or-treating. This was a rather new experience for both K and me. Growing up in Trinidad, Halloween isn't celebrated (All Saints Day on November 1st is another matter). Growing up in a rather strict Pentecostal home, we were forbidden to go door to door for candy. That was for "the world" and "worldly" Christians who were not Holy Ghost-filled. I did manage to get a Hallelujah party going for a few years, though. I was quite persuasive, even at 9.
Anyway, while taking the boys around my sister's neighborhood, we ran into a few Christian homes with signs on the doors that had the same attitude my parents put forth to us. Taped to the front door were signs that said something like, "We in this home are born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and do not celebrate the devil or occult. Therefore, we do not give out candy, but instead this encouragement to accept Jesus Christ into your heart and life." There were a couple of Bible verses in parentheses.
Nate and Justin, seven and six at the time, were confused. I felt annoyed. These notes were so... full of judgement. As if anyone who would participate in trick-or-treating could not possibly be "born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ". Or that we celebrate "the devil or occult". I found it rude. And amazingly, more off-putting than my parents brand of Pentecostalism. While we weren't allowed to trick-or-treat, they always had a couple of bags of candy for the kids who came to our door. A few years, they stuck tracts in with the sweets. That made sense to me. But signs with "encouragement to accept Jesus Christ" without even a tract to explain, in non-Christianese, what that means? Dumb.
I know Christians' opinions of Halloween runs the gamut from harmless fun and a time to wear costumes on down to it's an entry way to the bowels of Hell. If you fit more into that latter category, may I suggest you rethink your tactics? My former highschool classmate Jenn posted this post from TroubleFace Mom to Facebook, and it might just help you. Here's an excerpt:
I think I may actually offend every single church going person I know with this post. I’m not sorry. Just so we’re clear, you know – in advance.
Every Halloween it’s the same silly thing.
People getting annoyed with the gore. The focus on death. The devil. The blood.
And you know, I’m not a huge fan of all that stuff either. In fact I’m kind of a basket case with it, to the point I don’t even watch commercials for scary movies. So totally not my thing. But as I sat in my van tonight listening to Christmas music while watching Glenn and the boys knock on my parents’ neighbor’s doors, I was struck by something.
This is the only night of the entire year that most of your neighbors and mine are going to come knocking on our doors. The only night.
And what is the typical Christian response to this?
1. To go to church and hide from our neighbors at a “harvest party” with costumes and candy.
(FYI – nobody is fooled. Unless you live on a farm or have a grow op in your basement we all know that there isn’t any harvest going on.)
2. To turn off the lights and ignore the door bell for the evening.
I’m sure that both of those things are going a long way toward the command to love our neighbors. Jesus didn’t know anything about blood or torture or dying a gruesome death. The devil was definitely not there when Jesus died for and saved all of humanity.
I’m not here to try to sit down and come up with something redeeming about this day. There is nothing redeeming about it in the Christian sense of that word. But really, so what? Are so many of us really willing to keep our lights off and our doors closed because the neighbors are coming calling for candy instead of Jesus? Are we really sitting on our couches the other 364 days of the year waiting for them to show up looking for a revival? What exactly is so redeemed about the rest of the nights of the year? Lights are out, door is locked, nobody has a clue from the outside that Jesus is home.
May I suggest that you have neighbors who just want their kids to have fun and be safe on Halloween? They aren’t biting heads off of small animals or chanting spells or making voodoo dolls out of your likeness. They are normal people. I know this because I was one. I am one for crying out loud. Your neighbors are not out to get you. They just want you to meet them. To say hello. To share some candy. To be nice to their kids.
If Jesus can go straight to hell, stare death and devil in the face, win and come back alive, why can’t we open our doors to the 6 year old in a Batman costume and his shivering mom? Why can’t we?
I’m not denying that there are some really dark and disturbing things about this holiday that we don’t need to expose ourselves or our children to. Those church events may be the best place to party like it’s 1999 on Halloween for lots of families. I’m not assuming to know what is best for every person everywhere. I’m just saying that hiding from this holiday and the opportunity to meet our neighbors and/or their awesome kids may not always be the best way to approach it. So if you’re torn or on the fence or not sure how to deal with this very polarizing day for the Christian world, here are some thoughts:
Turn your light on. Lots of lights. A city on a hill cannot be hidden right? Be a city on a hill. Halloween may not be “redeemed” but you are. So open your door and smile.
If you don’t want to give away candy, give away something else. This year my kids got packets with juice boxes, raisins and prepackaged cookies. The kids may not jump for joy (mine didn’t) but hey – Halloween is the last day of the month. That kid’s mom or dad might not have done groceries yet since being paid, and that snack pack may be the best thing in the kid’s lunch the next day. You seriously never know. I live in a neighborhood where I can guarantee you this is true for a lot of families. I’ve seen some of those kids’ lunches. It ain’t always pretty. The kids also got play dough this year, and have received little pencils and notebooks in the past. There are some very fun, creative people out there who just want to do something nice for the neighborhood. Be one of those people!
I like her attitude! Do check out the whole thing. I don't get it. If we're supposed to be the light to the world, what are we doing hiding it?
Yesterday while doing some cleaning (our apartment, between the Virgina and Chicago trips was really getting way out of control), I heard a great podcast on The Bible Answer Man about Halloween, All Saints Day, Wicca and Satanists. The guest, Gretchen Passantino, really knows her stuff. You can listen here.