Here we are once again, Halloween, The "holiday" that causes the church to shiver and quake. It's the debate between light and dark, good and evil, trick or treat and harvest party, the churched vs. the non-churched. What to do, what to do?
Yesterday, while driving home from a work site, I was listening to our local Christian talk radio station, WordFM. The afternoon drive home program was on, it's called, The Ride Home with John and Kathy. The program is a mix of news, cutlutre trends, heart-warming stories, light theological discussion, and encouragement to help you press on in your faith journey with Christ. Sometimes the topics and guest resonnate with me and sometime the don't. But yesterday's show featured a segment that dealt with the Halloween issue. Local pastor, Bill Balbach, was on the show talking about some practical and helpful ways to engage the world come Halloween night.
Here's the thing...Halloween is one of those holidays where you are either okay with it or your not. There really is no fence riding for this one. The choise is, are we doing the whole dress up trick or treat thing or are we not. As believers, we are left with a tough decision. Do we go or do we hide away. As parents, the decision is slightly more intense because now you have to explain your reasons for what you decide to do.
There was a time, when Amy and I had to ask these question. Initially, we thought it was no big deal. I mean whether you dress up and roam the neighbor or dress up and hang out at the church, you still come home with candy. But there was a couple of year when we thought, "Why are we doing what we were doing?" And in those years, we did a few alternative activities. (Which resulted in buckets of candy when we came home.) I guess we just wanted to know why we were engaging in the Halloween festivities.
Well, I think we've finally come up with our reason why. Over the last three years, we have lived to engage our community. We don't want to just live here, we want to be a part of the community around us. We want to know our neighbors. We want to build relationships that offer hope and encouragement. So as we think about Halloween, the one night that the entire neighborhood is out and about, we want to be where our neighbors are. After all, isn't that what Jesus did?
Yesterdays, segment with Bill Balbach, on WordFM, helped to solidify our Halloween plans. About a week ago, Amy asked me, can we have a Halloween party? You know, invite some friends over, hang out, eat, and enjoy some good fellowship. I arrived at home on Monday afternoon and told Amy, let's plan a party!
But there's a condition. The condition is, I don't want us to have the kind of party that leads people into the house away from the neighbors. I want to do a party that bring us to our neighbors.
I think we as believers make a big mistake when we shut our doors and turn off ours lights and hide in our homes out of a fear that leads us to believe that Halloween is evil. Halloween isn't evil...it's just another day on the calendar. Sure there are the stories and the historical accounts of how people used the day for evil activities. But by itself, Halloween is just another day. And why are we even afraid of it all anyway? Aren't we told in 1 John 4:4, " You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." So fear not!
Seriously, Halloween is the one night of the year that people are actually out and walking around our neighborhood. If I want to engage my community, why would I miss the one night of the year when everyone is out and about? No, I want to get out there. I want to meet and greet. I want to see who it is that lives in that house down the street. I want to be where the people are.
So this year, we're throwing a Halloween Party. Not a party for our friends from the church, but a party that welcomes our neighbors! Food, candy,games, music, hot chocolate and apple cider, and a lot of hope that we will have the opportunity to meet and make a few new friends.
Here what I want to encourage you to do this Halloween. Don't avoid the holiday and thus miss out on what could be a great way to share God's love with the people around you. Engage them! Welcome them! Share with them! Be a Neighbor!
Bill Balbach made a statement that went something like, Jesus wouldn't be at your church harvest party. I think he's right, Jesus would be at the harvest party, he would be whever the people were. The evidence is all over the gospel accounts. Jesus went to where the people were. So be like Jesus, and GO!
Now amy and I will be talking about what we want to do as we plan our Halloween party. So what I am going to do is to come back with a part 2 to this post with a few ideas and suggestions, and a stronger encourgament to host your own neighborhood Halloween party. In fact, if you attend our church, Harvest Church, I will be encouraging you to prayefully concider how you might use Halloween as an opportunity to reach out to your neighbors. so be sure to come back for part 2 and get into the Halloween spirit!
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.