Halloween is controversial. Ghosts and ghouls and vampires and tombstones. Our world is scary enough without all that.
It’s so controversial that a lot of churches choose to deal with it by pretending it doesn’t exist. Some ignore it altogether, focusing on Reformation Day if they acknowledge anything. Others have Harvest parties, Fall Festivals, Great Pumpkin parties, or Trunk-or-Treats in their safe buildings, further isolating their children from the world.
Besides the fact that costumes and candy are just plain fun, there’s a bigger reason why I love to celebrate Halloween.
Most of the children in America do. As a holiday, it’s second only to Christmas in terms of participation and dollars spent. We can bemoan that fact all we want – I certainly wish Easter was more significant, too – or we can seize the opportunity.
When else will dozens of children stream across my yard and knock on my front door? I don’t want them to see us as that crotchety old couple who are too religious to be fun, feeding the prevalent view that Christ-followers are judgmental.
Steve and I want every aspect of our lives to be missional – to contribute to our overall mission of knowing God and making him known. We refuse to close the door on potential relationships with the children (and their parents) in my neighborhood because the way we celebrate Halloween in America makes us uncomfortable.
So we dress up (but never in a macabre outfit). And we dole out candy. We ask the kids their names, comment on their outfits, and wish them fun. We use the opportunity to keep the door open to more. We try to reflect a glimmer of Jesus’s heart: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.”
It’s just a small thing, but the kids do remember who’s friendly and who isn’t. We want to be friendly neighbors. Who knows where that may lead?