Friday, October 31, 2014

Barricade or Blessing?

I keep my candy, and my kid, for our church harvest party. I just ignore the doorbell on Halloween.”

That's a quote, from someone I don't know, on Facebook last week. Halloween comes and goes, and so do rants about it. As usual. (I had my own last year regarding the “too old” question.)

The woman mentioned above seems to share a common opinion among churchgoing acquaintances. Jus some samples from conversations I “overheard” online last week:

Halloween is so dark/creepy/ugly.
The kids are too greedy/too old/ too overweight/too impolite.
Costumes are too gruesome/slutty/non-existent.
Why even open the door?

All possibly true. Yet the tone feels like Ebeneezer Scrooge landed in the wrong month and took up residence in, of all the places he never belongs but too often is found, the church.

Let me say, first, I don't care for gruesome. Not a fan of the macabre. Have never, ever felt an inclination to dress up as a bloodied zombie apocalypse corpse with a chainsaw. My kids were never allowed to dress like that, and they never wanted to. I avoid Party City in the fall like the doctor's office during flu season. Just don't need to see that.

So I get the distaste for handing candy to someone whose costume makes it all very unappetizing.

Also—I want to be clear that if you choose not to celebrate the holiday with your own children, that is your right to decide. No one gets to guilt you for that decision. All parents and all kids are different. You make the best decisions for your kids, and I don't think they'll be in therapy because they never got to dress as Sponge Bob.

So I understand a vote of family non-participation.

"Cow" and "adorable." Not two words
often seen together.
What I don't understand is the notion that we are better people if we turn off our porch lights and ignore our neighbors' kids. That God will be more pleased with us when we save our candy for church rather than making it an offering of grace to those who will never enter our church doors.

As if, somehow, handing out candy to costumed children at church is holier than handing it out to costumed children at your front door. I would suggest that maybe your front door is just as holy. Possibly, it's even more so.

I'd love to offer a few thoughts in answer to that final question—why even open the door?

Many years ago, waaaay back in college, I went trick or treating to collect money for UNICEF with my sorority. That was big back then. I don't remember what I dressed as, but I do remember the door we came up to with the handwritten sign that read, “Halloween is Satan's holiday. You are going to Hell.” Someone flunked “pleasant greeting” class at the Carnegie Institute.

Months of quiet witness to my sisters evaporated on that doorstep. It took months more before they would even listen to the idea that God could be more than they had witnessed that night. Again—anyone is entitled to that belief. But not the best way to express it on a night with the chance to talk to neighbors who come to you.

Maybe, instead of thinking of our front door as a barricade to keep the evil world out, we need to think of it as an altar to offer blessing and grace.

Seriously, how did we get them to be still
long enough to dress?
Maybe letting our light shine can happen better when we turn the porch light on for a kid who could be desperately trying to pretend he's scary because this world scares the heck out of him. Light always shines brighter when it's in darkness. Church fall events are great. Go. Invite people. But shining your light in an already lit up room doesn't do much for the total wattage in this world. Where is the dark?

They're kids at your door. Someone's kids. God's creation. They will grow up too fast, too soon. And that girl at your door dressed as Bimbo Belle or Sexy Snow White? She'll grow up even faster. Maybe what she really needs more than a modesty lecture or a gospel tract is a neighbor who knows her and takes the time to open the door. Maybe, on more than one night a year.

You don't have to like Halloween. It can be ugly, and yes, it can be satanic. But—it can also just possibly be redemptive, when we choose to turn a light on and open a door.


  1. Yes Jill, I think sometimes we act without asking ourselves what kind of message we are sending out by our actions, and what the effects would be. We try to share the gospel, but shut people out with our unkind judgmental attitude. Jesus asked the woman at the well for a drink of water; He interacted with her, and found the door to share the gospel. May God help us to be kinder and meet people where they are, and encourage them to come out of the darkness.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more. Since when is hospitalty at our own home a sin. I think it's a sin when we aren't hospitable and snub neighbors. No one will come to the Lord through a shut door.