Saturday night, we hosted a Halloween Party and last night we went trick-or-treating. And I’m sure that we ostracized some people for having participated in such events.
I have never hosted a Halloween Party, and I have only gone trick-or-treating three times in my life. Once when I was six when my dad took me across the street to one neighbor’s house, and then last year and this year with my kids. I was one of those people that thought this holiday was completely evil and that the only right way to celebrate it was at the church in the name of an “outreach”.
But I never felt like I was missing out.
My cousin, and best friend, was born on Oct. 31st, and so that day was always celebrated at his birthday part in a little town in the mountains outside of Redding. I loved being with my aunt and uncle, and they always added so much to my life. After his party, my aunt would dress us up and take us down to Redding for the Harvest Festival that my mom and dad had planned. This was always a major event in the city, and I ALWAYS had the time of my life. Why would I want to go trick-or-treating when I had access to the “candy room” at the church on that special night? I was a pastor’s kid that had it good.
But I still grew up thinking that trick-or-treating and decorating for Halloween and celebrating it outside of a church building was a sin.
Imagine the conversation between Nick and I when we were first dating when I learned that Halloween was his favorite holiday. He says it’s a holiday that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. He’s partially right (wink, wink, my love).
I swore I would never take my kids trick-or-treating and he swore back that he would never take them to a harvest festival at a church. We didn’t speak to each other for a whole five minutes. And then agreed that we would both think about it some more.
Hahahaha… how stuck I was on tradition. How stuck he was on assumptions.
Also imagine my shock when I found out that Christmas and Easter also have roots steeped in both Christian AND pagan traditions. So… you mean Halloween is not the only one?????
Yep. I learned that “Easter” is the name of a fertility goddess that ancient civilazations used to worship. The rabbits and eggs were a symbol of that fertility. How delightful. So what did we Christian’s do? We took it back. We celebrate Christ’s resurrection, which really did happen around that time of year. We redeemed that weekend for something divine. To remember what He did for us. To celebrate His victory over death. Which has never meant more to me than it does this year.
And what of Christmas? I actually LOVE the truth behind this one. Much like Christians in other parts of the world today, the first Christians faced persecution, torture, imprisonment, and even death for their beliefs. So what did they do? They decided to celebrate the birth of Christ at the same time as a popular pagan holiday. No one would think anything of them celebrating at the same time. So while most of the known world at the time was celebrating the rituals of evil, Christian’s were redeeming a day for the name of Christ. Taking it back. Rewriting history. Giving new meaning to the Christmas tree, the food, the lights, the presents.
This is what the message of Christ was. He didn’t leave us as we were. He took us back. He redeemed us. He washed us clean. He gave us purpose. Nick also says a lot that, “Christ is in the business of redemption.”
And so, this weekend I celebrated family, friends, community. On Friday, I gathered at the church and had lunch with the workers and family who were setting up for the carnival. It was one of the best lunches I have spent with friends in years. That night we gathered with our church and the community and played games, won toys, ate candy, and spent time with friends, laughing and playing in a safe place, in the name of outreach, in the name of Christ. And what a wonderful thing this is for a community.
On Saturday night we had a party. We dressed up. We decorated our house in lights and cobwebs and pumpkins. We had music. We had food. We even had a bubbling bowl of sherbet punch. And I had a great time.
Then, on Sunday, we gathered with friends, most of which are pastors and staff at our church, and their little precious ones and went to a safe neighborhood and trick-or-treated. We talked, we laughed, we ate candy, we recorded sweet little moments on camera. And then we went to pizza.
That, my friends, is how you take back a holiday. Cause Christ is also in the business of community.
And I was just reminded by a wise woman, that this is our mandate as followers of Christ. No, not that we have to celebrate Halloween, but that on this earth, as ambassadors, we do NOT leave things as we are. No, we revive them. We refresh them. We lead them to the divine. To Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Master, our Abba.
“They will know you for your love for one another.”