By Kevin Scruggs
WHAT?!? I know, I know, years ago I would have been burned at the stake for uttering such a sentence. Halloween, in church circles, has traditionally been known as the devil’s holiday. Church and Halloween should never be uttered in the same sentence. Now before you fire off that email to me, I want to ask you a question. Can you tell me another day of the year where your neighbors, your community, come to your door with absolutely no invitation from you?
In the church world, we often talk about reaching out to our neighbors and build relationships with our community. I should know, I’m a pastor, which probably makes my opening title all the more controversial. Maybe I will shut my email off for a few days…
Jesus told us, those who follow Him, to go out into the world and preach the Gospel, the Good News that He has come to save the world. I know we often find that a difficult proposition. I can hear you now, “I’m not going to bust out my Bible and run up and down my street shouting at my neighbors.”. I agree. You may have heard this quote, “Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary, use words.” Easy to say, difficult to do. Let me take you back to my original premise. On Halloween, we have an opportunity to do just that. Ok you just used the church, the Gospel AND Halloween in the same sentence, this guy is a heretic for sure. What if, on Halloween, the day where people come to your house, you left your light on, greeted your community with a smile, and passed out candy? And by candy, I mean the good stuff, not the cheap stuff that we put out when our relatives visit (sorry Uncle Frank). I’m not suggesting that you slip a Gospel tract in the bag, although if you feel God is compelling you to do that then do it, but I am suggesting that you smile, get down on the kid’s eye level, be generous, say hello.
A few years ago my family began a tradition in our neighborhood. I live at the end of a very long street. By the time families (read parents) get to my house, they are tired, so we decided to roll out the welcome mat. We provide candy for the kids, and cider/hot chocolate for the parents. In fact, we have chairs for the parents and a portable heater. What has happened is that the parents stay and chat for a few minutes and let their kids go to the next few houses. It gives us a chance to show kindness to the parents and the kids. Sometimes we strike up a conversation with the parents, sometimes they are just quiet as they take a breather. It’s a simple gesture with no strings attached. I think that is the key. People don’t expect it. I look at it this way, God brought these people to my house. Of all the neighborhoods… you get the idea. So if God brought them, the least I can do is show some kindness.
If you are not into Halloween, no problem, I’m not either. I don’t dress up nor do I decorate my house with ghosts or goblins. I just open my door, smile and see how I can be a blessing to my community, albeit for a very brief moment. If you don’t get kids in your neighborhood, find a friend who does and help them. October 31 is an opportunity to engage and bless your community. Take a step in that direction, and see what God can do through you.