Thursday, November 01, 2007

I realize some people have their sensitivities with Halloween...and maybe rightly so. Some have "Harvest parties" some just choose to shut their doors and protest the day all together. It's true that, historically speaking, it's been a night when all kinds of evil has been celebrated. So, redeeming such a holiday is admittedly a challenge. It's with that in mind that I would like to throw out some thoughts.

For folks who prefer to take the Ban Halloween approach....I wonder if you're missing an opportunity. No matter what you call the thing--Halloween, Harvest-time, or the Hokey Pokey, one fact remains. There is really no other time of the year when most of our neighbors come and knock on OUR door. I wonder, instead of putting up stop signs, shouldn't we be making huge welcome signs?

Weeks ago, Maddie's piano teacher (who lives in our neighborhood) and I had a discussion about our neighbors and wanting to reach out. We discussed having a big pumpkin carving contest at the end of our street and inviting all the neighborhood (we only have 20 houses in our subdivision). Her teacher ended up running with it and invited the neighbors over for an open house with all kinds of fall soups and pumpkins for the kids. It was a huge success!

Our neighbors to the right of us are former music biz people with a daughter around Sam's age. We've been really getting to know them this year. Somewhere along the way, they were burned by church. The scars remain...but they are so amazing. We've loved getting to know them. They came over and walked the neighborhood with us last night. Because the ice had been broken and friendships had been started through neighborhood events, there were many long visits at different houses.

Our neighbors from India who live directly across the street (they own 16 Subway restaurants) are around our age and don't have kids, even though they really WANT kids. They've always been so kind to us. When Manisha asked Sheryl if we were coming by that night, they set up a time to make sure they would be home. How nice is that? So, eventually we makde our way to their house. They were both home and invited us in to their beautiful house filled with amazing artwork and artifacts. In the middle of their living room is an intricately etched and painted wooden swing...a traditional piece in India. So nice! As it turns out, Hemanchu and Manisha had prepared snacks and drinks for us. We spent about an hour sitting and laughing with Rick and Stacey (our next door neighbors), and Hemanchu and Manisha. It was an unlikely trio of couples. But we had such a great time and made plans to get together again.

I am convinced we are called to love our neighbors. I think one of the only ways we can truly do that in today's world is to be a real friend. We should open ourselves to sincere friendship with people we might not have much in common with. Maybe you'll find out you have more in common than you think!

We are discovering the beauty of our neighborhood. There are some nice houses, some well kept yards and flower beds, and some nice decorations...but the real beauty of our neighborhood is in our neighbors. We are grateful for the relationships that are deepening there! Thank you, God!

On a lighter note--here are some pictures from the school parties yesterday. Because all three are in school this year, we had to divide and conquer...thanks to my mom. I was with Ella...

Ella and Ansley Brown (daughter of Taft and Kristen Cottier Brown)

Sam and his class came through trick-or-treating. He was so proud of himself!

Yum!!! Frosted cookies are my favorite! I know you're not supposed to take candy out of a baby's hands, but does the same apply for frosted cookies???

Ella's class with her teacher, Miss Amanda


Christy said...

I can totally AMEN every bit of what you just wrote!! We too have been getting to know our neighbors better and it has been great. We are trying to invite them to some church activities, but like yours they have been burned in the past and are a little skiddish. We're just hoping to show them that christians can have fun and we're not all judging them from afar.

I'm glad you had such a good time last night...we did too.

Phil said...

Our buddy Thomas McKenzie had a great post on this the other day.

All Hallow's Eve

Dwiggy444 said...

I'm often conflicted about Halloween - I'm concerned abotu giving too much attention to a "pagan holiday", but I also understand that most kids just see it as a fun time to dress up like their favorite cartoon character or animal. And I'm starting to see it more and more like you do - as an opportunity to visit with neighbors and strengthen our community bonds, even with people who don't share our faith. Last night was interesting for us -

We were planning to go trick-or-treating later in the evening with our friends in their neighborhood on the other side of town. While we were geting ready to leave, all the kids in our neighborhood were running back and forth between houses, showing off their costumes and exchanging special "treat bags" that they had prepared for each other. It was great to see how important "community" was to the kids in our neighborhood.

Then we went over to our friends house and had a great time walking the neighborhood with them. They've got two younger kids and it was wonderful to see how their kids "opened the door" for them to intereact with their neighbors - both those they knew and those that they didn't. And the whole neighborhood was out - there were crowds of kids and parents all around us, making the rounds, shivering in the cool fall air, and just enjoying life and community and the laughter of children.

So...yeah, Halloween has some pretty bad roots and has been commercialized and is tainted by its roots. But I agree with Brandon - it's definitely an opportunity to be "in the world and not of it" and to show our neighbors that we care about love and acceptance and community...just like they do.

Adam said...

I couldn't agree with you more, my friend. My position on the whole Halloween thing is missional. If I am pursuing the mission of God to the world I can't see how I can be the guy who lives in the house that doesn't give out candy...or even open the door...or even turn on the porch light...on the night when the community comes to me. I fully understand the roots of the holiday, but aren't we in the business of being redemptive?

Brandon Scott said...

Wooot!! Go Adam! I always appreciate how you express and word things. I couldn't agree more!

Thomas+ said...

Phil gave me the shout out (thanks Phil) and Brandon commented on my post. So, here I am to keep the mutual love flowing.

Brandon is right on the money. Last night we went around trick or treating with some of our neighbors and their kids. On three occasions, a house was dark and one of my neighbors said "oh, they are at church." So we all frowned and moved on.

Those folks missed out on the relationships because they were hiding out with their church friends, who they could literally hang out with every week.

I personally think that if you are going to "love your neighbor as you love yourself," you are going to have to actually get to know your neighbors. I've never seen "love" work outside of a relationship. In fact, since "love" is a relational word, love without relationship would be a pretty neat trick.

Brandon Scott said...

Love me some Father Thomas. Isn't it time that we met at Sam and Zoe's again soon???

Mark Lowenstein said...


We carved out the pumpkins the night of Halloween. We made crosses of Jesus Christ on the pumpkins. As the light shines from the candles, so does the cross of Jesus!

Perhaps, next time, instead of giving away scary faces spooking people, shine Jesus sanctifying their souls with His love!

And remember, "In season and out, preach the Word!"

Deb said...

Great message, Brandon!

Thought you might enjoy this from The Beeb:

Is the Email address listed for you on OC's website still current?

Amy said...

We had to tackle this issue at our church this year. It was the first time we had any objection to "using" Halloween as an outreach. I think you said it well. Thanks for your thoughts.

Sandra said...

Great post, friend! I am on my soap box about fewer "programs" and more relational experiences. If we don't truly love and learn about our neighbors, they aren't going to care how slick our programs are. Love you!

Amy Boone said...

I LOVE the way you worded this! I simply love Halloween! I tell my kids that I have invented my own personal holiday. It is October 1st. The reason for it is that October 1st ushers in the HOLIDAY SEASON!!!! Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas!!!! Yippee!!!!! Here is a link to a good Halloween article from a Christian perspective.