A few years ago, we had a change of heart regarding Halloween.
As a family in church leadership, it had been our personal conviction that we steered clear of the holiday. So we turned off the lights, left the house for the night, and went bowling or something fun to distract the children from the looting they were missing out on.
After fifteen years of not “doing” Halloween with our kids, God asked us to look at it differently. If you do not celebrate Halloween, and this is how you choose to honor God, I understand, support you, and am not attempting to change your mind. This is simply the choice we made for our family.
So what happened? Why was Halloween the forbidden holiday for us one year and carefully reconsidered the next? What made my teenager run to the door like a giddy grade school girl when the neighbor kids rang the doorbell that night?
Honestly, God asked me to check my heart on the topic. Was I bound by religion? Or was I called to love my neighbor? Was I held captive by fear of what people would think of us as the pastor’s family? Or was I compelled to open my door and welcome the neighbor kids in costume over a bowl of mini chocolate bars?
In an age where not many of us know our neighbors anymore much less love our neighbors as ourselves, we decided to open our home on Halloween was a “baby step” in showing generosity and hospitality to our neighbors. We don’t want to be the dark house without any lights on. We want to be a family that welcomes, loves and gives.
So one year we showed “The Great Pumpkin” on our garage door, had a bonfire and s’mores in the front yard and, wait for it. . . talked to our neighbors. It was a great night.
We don’t celebrate Halloween in the same way we celebrate Easter, Christmas and family birthdays.
You won’t find tombstones in our yard or skeletons hanging from our trees. In the grand scheme of things, Halloween isn’t really cause for true celebration. But it’s a fun excuse to welcome creatively costumed children ringing your doorbell and connect with your neighbors. And well, to be honest, eat all the delicious, forbidden candy we grown-ups think we should never eat.
And as I think about what Jesus would do if he lived next door, I’m guessing just like he turned water into wine at a wedding and fed thousands with a little boy’s lunch, he’d have the biggest and best treats on the block and a heart full of compassion for the too-old-teenager, lazily costumed, with his pillowcase of candy in tow.