I grew up in the sticks (Hobbit hole, remember?)
Not only that, but I was religiously sheltered from secular culture as well.
Those two put together meant that I only knew Halloween by name, and didn’t get to enjoy in on the sugar coated hysteria.
So why do I now get my children excited and dressed up for this holiday?
The answer is simple; love your neighbor as yourself.
Let me explain. As my parents loosened up your sheltering grip my brother and I were finally allowed to attend a church harvest party when I was in 7th grade. I got to dress up for the first time as the ever feared French Mime.
This new tradition continued into my own parenting years, with me even being a part in hosting the festivities.
The premise was always the same; give the church kids a chance to have fun while their heathen schoolmates roamed the streets. Sure, we would often use the excuse that kids and families should invite people in, and make the party bigger, but that rarely happened.
The end result was always that neighborhoods were void of these “good Christians”, and those houses were quickly skipped over by trick or treater’s in favor of homes of families who enjoyed seeing children with smiling faces and sparkly costumes.
Last week I talked some about how I had trouble making friends because I had only learned how to look in one place; church. (Click here to read; Looking For Friends in All the Wrong Places)
I grew up with this belief that if I interacted with non-Christians it would somehow cause me to ‘back slide’ and I would be throwing away my Christianity.
But, what if our Christianity is what should be driving us to walk those candy paved neighborhood streets and turn our light on for little goblins and ghouls?
Once a year people are given a social excuse to walk their neighborhood, knock on doors and say hello to all of our unknown neighbors.
Being the extreme introvert that I am, I know just a couple of those neighbors by name.
If I am to ‘love my neighbor as myself’, shouldn’t I start by getting to know my neighbor?
If I am only ever getting to know the people in my church; their needs, their hopes, their dreams. Where am I leaving time for getting to know the people who immediately surround me?
Christians complain all too often that they don’t have an ‘in’ with people. They don’t have the relationship with people to properly minister to them. Yet, year after year we seclude ourselves behind closed doors hoping that those same people will just come to us.
I think Jesus would have done it differently.
I think He would be out roaming the streets, saying hello to each neighbor He sees.
He’d be out relating to people, probably even getting compliments for his awesome Jonah in the fish costume.
His doorstep would be lit up, with decorations all around. Being a carpenter (laborer) he would have fashioned something pretty awesome to compete with the guy down the street, all in fun to see the children get excited.
He would be handing out the best candy or non-candy toys, and maybe even offering up a little something for the exhausted parents stuck carrying the tired younger siblings block after block.
Loving my neighbor, for me, means making an effort to get to know them. To care about them enough to join them in their celebration. To celebrate with them, just because you love them.
Last year we hosted games, hot dogs and face painting in our cul-de-sac.
This year I’ve upped the ante with a smore’s bar and extremely awesome non-candy prizes.
That’ll be great for the kiddos, but what about the older people in their homes? We’ll be walking door to door, reverse trick or treating. My kids will be making cute crafts and colored pictures to give to all of those past their child raising years, hopefully giving us a chance to get to know them more.
Halloween is what you make it. I choose to make it about loving the people in my neighborhood.
I think love beats avoidance any day.
How About You?
What are your Halloween plans?