This may not be the truth you’re expecting.
“Don’t punish the child,
because of the parent’s mistake.”
Stella Lucille Mosqueda
I don’t like Halloween.
It’s not a good “holiday.” I know evil things happen every day of the year, even on the truest of holy-days, but Halloween is especially wicked. In fact, Halloween represents everything I truly hate in this world—with one important exception.
I love children, and Halloween and children go hand-in-hand. In the United States, it is the best day of the year for most of them. They love dressing-up, and getting free candy. They love being out after dark, and parading down the middle of the street with their friends. They get to wear make-up and costumes to school, and eat popcorn balls for lunch. On Halloween, every child gets to be someone pretty or someone strong or someone special. It’s just one day, but it’s a day many children anticipate all year long. For them, the most innocent among us, Halloween is a day of great fun.
So, despite the awful truth behind Halloween, despite the real meaning behind the decorations and symbols, children look forward to it. I know I did. You probably did, too. And, I’m sure you knew as little about the truth of the day as I did. We might have known it was originally a bad day, like a million years ago, but we assumed it was all make-believe now. Right? I mean, the skeletons were just made from plastic, and those spooky voices were on a tape recording. The scary Dracula with the bowl of toothbrushes was really Dr. Garcia. It was all make-believe and let’s pretend.
That childish innocence, and ignorance, is always on my mind this time of year. As much as I wish I could protect every child from the evil of the day, it’s not my place. So, do I withdraw and turn off my porch lights, punishing the children for their parent’s mistake? Is disengagement from anything to do with this dreadful day the moral choice? Or, do we compromise and just stay away from the spooky and focus on the fun?
This year, I decided to ask myself what Jesus would do. It’s a question that has become a cliche, but I think it should be how we live, how we measure our choices. After all, He is our role model: Be ye holy, for I am holy. ^
“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5b
The first thing that came to my mind as I asked myself this question, this question of how to deal with the truth about Halloween, was Christ’s habit of meeting people in their circumstances. He is still that way today, meeting us in the midst of our unbelief; in the midst of our sin. He even meets us in the midst of our ignorance. He comes to us where we are, in the most unlikely moments and places.
When I think about that, trying to imagine Jesus in my neighborhood and what He would do on Halloween 2017, I know He wouldn’t be hiding behind drawn curtains and a closed door. He wouldn’t be ignoring the world outside. In fact, I think His door would be wide open—or, more likely, He would be sitting on the front steps. Would He hand-out candy, when the truth of Trick-or-Treat is so evil? You know, I think there would be big bowls of treats beside Him, piled to overflowing, because He wouldn’t give out His candy sparingly, one piece at a time. He would hold out those bowls and invite every child—and every grown-up—to take freely!
His house would be different, too. The porch light would not only be on, but every light in the house would be blazing! Nothing dark and spooky about Jesus’ house; it would be bright and welcoming. It would stand out from every other house on the street. Twinkle lights and brights mums—no one would be afraid to walk up His driveway.
If it was a warm night, maybe He’d offer chilled water bottles. Cold nights would warrant hot cider, ready to serve in to-go cups. There might even be some lawn chairs out for tired moms or dads who needed a break.
It would be the BEST house on the street!
Can’t you just see it? He’d shake hands, ask names, and bless each one as they moved onto the next house—if they could bear to leave! Since He offered them all the candy they could want, they might not feel the need to go any further. They might want to linger in the comfort of His presence, and forget about the scary attractions at other houses. They might prefer to stay longer than they knew polite company should, because they were receiving so much more than just a sweet treat and a dime store thrill. True love is irresistible, and for some of them this would be their first encounter. For others, a reminder of what they once had known, but left behind.
When the night was finally over, Jesus would make sure everyone knew His door was always open to them. They were always welcome.
Those are nice thoughts, aren’t they? I don’t mean to make Jesus sound like Mr. Rogers. I hope my imaginings didn’t offend. It may be lighthearted to think of Jesus living down the street, but it is what He once did. He dwelt among us.* He visited His neighbors; He attended their weddings; He served them lunch. His example is greater than just being a good neighbor, but He did set a standard of hospitality, generosity, and kindness towards others. He reached out in ways that were practical and meaningful, without ever compromising. And, in doing that He gained an opportunity to share the truth.
I am definitely challenged by His example. What if I practiced a level of hospitality that was beyond my comfort zone? What if I chose to be more generous than I think I can afford, and more gracious than I think anyone deserves? What if I loved like Jesus loves, without prejudice towards parents who allow their pre-teens to dress-up like demons and prostitutes?
But denunciatory rhetoric is so much easier and cheaper than good works, and proves a popular temptation. Yet is it far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.
William L. Watkinson
These days, we don’t actually get many Trick-or-Treaters. I always have candy on hand, but you won’t find any other signs of the day. A pumpkin on my step, maybe. I smile as I drop candy into every treat sack, but I don’t make any extra effort. I don’t really try to be friendly—I don’t go out of my way.
In other words, I’ve never tried to be a light in the darkness. I’m ashamed to admit that, but it’s true. I never before thought of the darkest day of the year as the most perfect day of the year to shine my little light. How stupid I have been. What an opportunity I’ve been missing!
The truth about Halloween is that it just might be the best day of the year for me to be more like Jesus. Instead of cursing the darkness, I can dispel it.
I really like that idea a lot.