guest post by Lynette Karulkar
Halloween is just around the corner. I’ve never been much into scary stuff at all; my husband has to wait until I go to bed to watch scary movies. I tend to avoid gross creepy things, even down to the Halloween aisle at the store. But, when I come across something I don’t like, I still get to choose my response, and over the years I’ve made the choice to get excited about Halloween. To me, Halloween is the perfect chance to be a Christian -- without being creepy, of course.
I grew up in a Christian subculture that believed we are not to participate in evil but prepare an alternative space where Christ can be welcomed. (Cue the harvest parties and Bible character costumes!) But after doing that for many years, I just don’t agree with the thought process of hiding from Halloween anymore. I have listened to the lectures from Christians reminding me that in light of the upcoming holiday, "evil is present," Halloween is pagan, and our stance should be taken seriously. I agree that we should have a stance, but I choose to respond differently.
A number of years ago we were a younger family, our kids were in the baby and toddler stages, and we had moved into our first home. It was on a street with a lot of families who were older than us. They were also a lot grumpier than us. Life had taken its toll on them. We were the new family on the block and you could tell they were slightly annoyed. More loud kids moved into their neighborhood. Fall came and pumpkins appeared, we decided to take some action. We invited a dozen of the closest houses to a Halloween Party on our driveway. We had no idea if anyone would come, but we set up a little canopy, prepared hot cocoa, coffee and treats. We put our coats on and sat out there while our kids ran around in the yard, and we waited. Then one by one the neighbors started coming out of their houses and towards our driveway! They welcomed us to the neighborhood, they caught up with other neighbors they rarely spoke to, and they just hung out on our driveway. At the end of the night we were highly caffeinated and cold, but our street felt a little more like home.
If you’ve been around New City for even a short time, you’ve definitely heard the phrase Jesus is making all things new. That comes out of a passage in Revelation 21:5. Because I believe Jesus is making all things new in my own life, in my family and in my city, I can choose to respond differently on Halloween. I don’t need to get freaked out about how my friends and neighbors are celebrating, or the scary costumes and haunted houses. Instead I embrace that I am an imperfect person, being courageous and I am part of the restorative work of Jesus to make all things new.
Being on mission is not creepy. We’re not luring children to our driveway to give them candy and a gospel tract. We’re not tricking them to come so we can tell them about good and evil. We’re not hoping that they take off the mask, repent and join us at church on Sunday. No creepy Christian stuff this Halloween!
Instead, take a few minutes to strategically plan your Halloween. Think about your neighbors and how you will approach them; is it possible that instead of embracing the evil of Halloween, you might be able to embrace the idea of loving your neighbor? The first step to loving someone is meeting them, inviting them to share your driveway and some treats. We were surprised at the warm response we had after that first halloween party, it began to feel like a community on our street, and grew from there. A small gesture can create big opportunity. Let’s dare to believe that in these spaces God could begin His renewal work in our neighborhoods.
At our home on October 31 our lights will be on, we might have a few spiders hanging from the garage, my kids will probably be dressed as superheroes and anxiously waiting for people to show up. We will brew coffee, have s’mores and pass out the good candy. What you will not find is pumpkin spice creamer, or any creepy Christian stuff. We will remember that the light and love of Jesus lives in us and we will take this as an opportunity to get to know as many neighbors and strangers as we can. If we say we are on mission, but we want to hide on the one night when people come to us, we have missed the easiest chance to show the world who God is! Let’s be courageous this Halloween.