Well, it’s that time of the year again…
Halloween is here, and so are the Christian subcultural “alternatives”… your harvest festivals, your fall carnivals or, if you’re part of a 1st generation Korean church (as we are) your Hallelujah Nights (get it? Hall…elujah… no? hmm)…
It’s not that I mind having an alternative event at the church on Halloween. These days, it’s nice to have a safe, fun place for kids to gather. This Friday, we’re going to have an obstacle course bounce house, games and enough candy to send the kids home sugar-wired and tooth-decayed. It’s always a fun time, and we love spending time with the kids.
However, I think we might be missing out on something. Halloween could actually strengthen relationships between parents and their kids. Now, I understand the confusion about its origins. The date seems to correspond with pagan traditions (bad!) but was redeemed by the church as the eve before All Saints’ Day (nice!) and is now all about candy and creepy vibes (tasty! but kind of bad!). It seems to me, though, that it might be worth redeeming the day one more time, given the ways in which families might benefit.
Halloween is easy — all you have to do is walk around the neighborhood with the kids. It’s about as low maintenance as you can get — between the trick or treating, loot counting and general excitement, parents don’t even really have to talk to their kids (not that I recommend that approach). It’s already built-in fun, so the memories kids have of this quality time spent together with their parents would naturally have positive associations.
And, on top of all that, it’s the one time during the year where it’s okay to go and see the neighbors (who, often, are just anonymous people who happen to live in close physical proximity). Again, as far as building community goes, this is about as easy an on ramp as we’re likely to find — even the most un-chatty neighbors are likely to respond to questions like, “Seen any good costumes?” or “Did you hear they’re giving out full-sized candy bars over on the next street?” or “Have you considered the ways in which your chocolate-purchasing habits might be contributing to slave labor and oppression, given the poor human rights track record of many of the chocolate industry’s biggest players?” (Okay, so that last one is a total conversation-killer, but it’s definitely worth considering. Check out JustOne’s Sex&Chocolate campaign for more insight).
The opportunity to be a missional presence in our neighborhoods and communities — looking for God at work in the world and joining in rather than retreating to our enclaves — is there everyday, so I’m not going to make my last stand on this Halloween issue, but I’m holding onto the dream of something better — embodying love and not fear, living the Jesus way missionally into the culture.