Why this pastor loves Halloween

Published 1:52 pm Saturday, October 29, 2016

by Andrew Book

When Halloween comes up on the calendar, there is almost always someone from within the Christian world who declares that we should stay away from the holiday because it is either Satanic, promotes something bad or is dangerous for some reason or another. Leaving aside the fact that Halloween is, at its core, a Christian holiday (All Hallow’s Eve, or the night before All Saint’s Day), I have to say this: I love Halloween. There are certainly things that go on as part of Halloween celebrations I would rather we avoided, but all-in-all I love Halloween.

While there are a number of reasons that I love Halloween, one reason tops the list: Community. Halloween is one of the few times that we actually engage the people around us in our community. We walk up and down the street together as the kids are trick-or-treating. We ring doorbells and knock on doors that we would otherwise never touch. We meet neighbors who we probably would never have met otherwise. Hopefully, we strike up conversations and share stories about Halloween costumes and decorations. Maybe we even talk about life and the challenges that we are facing. Maybe we even set up a time to see each other again (Pro-Tip: “Let’s do lunch sometime” doesn’t work. “Can you do lunch next Wednesday at noon at this restaurant” does!)

It used to be common to walk up and down our streets and see our neighbors. We used to have time to stop and chat and share life together, but today the majority of us are in such a hurry that we don’t have time to just “walk” or have a time for anything unplanned. Our busy-ness has disconnected us from one another to the point that many of us barely know our neighbors (if we know them at all). That is why I love Halloween — because it gives us a chance to connect with our community in ways that we wouldn’t otherwise. I love seeing people take joy at decorating their homes in ways that other people will admire because we so rarely do anything to bring a smile to someone else. I love seeing costumes and makeup and everything that we do for Halloween because all of it brings us together — and we need to be brought together.

Thinking how we need community holidays in order to get to know our neighbors makes me a bit sad. I wish that we would be connecting with each other every day. But we don’t. Mourning for something that doesn’t exist does not do us any good. Instead, we need to make the most of each opportunity that we do have to make connections and build community. So, my challenge for you will be to make one connection with a neighbor this Halloween that goes a little deeper that “Trick-or-treat!” Have a real conversation with one person — we can all do that. Be sure that you leave that conversation with each other’s phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook contacts, or plans to meet again so that your connection can be more than simply a one-time conversation.

We need to build up our communities, and to do that, we need to be present to people in our communities. If you are in a community where people Trick-or-Treat, be sure you are outside to connect with your neighbors. If you can’t walk the street, set up a lawn chair on your front step with a big bowl of the good candy. Say hello, introduce yourself and be a neighbor!

At Courtland UMC, we have decided that instead of our own event we are going to be a part of the community trick-or-treating on Halloween evening. If you are in Courtland, come by the church as we will have a bunch of cars our front for “trunk”-or-treating. There will be candy, but more importantly, there will be good people! Meet somebody new and let’s be the community together.

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or andrew@courtlandumcva.org.

Courtland United Methodist Church

Oct. 30: Cultivating Generosity in a “Me-First” World

Nov. 6: Shopping with Values in a World of “Deals”

Nov. 13: Tithing as Thankfulness and Worship in an “I’ve Earned It” World.