Halloween is that time of year where we collectively spend 2.5 billion dollars on candy, costumes, and party supplies. I remember almost every halloween as a kid, usually measured by how cold it was, how much candy I hauled in, and by how creative my home-made costume was for that year. One Halloween my mother cut dozens of strips off of a white bed sheet and wrapped me and my bulky snow suit up like an Egyptian mummy. As I waddled door to door, there was my mom following along, collecting my linen strips as they dragged behind me. Good memories.
Halloween is the one and only time of the year where people get out and actively visit each other. We share small gifts of candy or toys, laugh with each other, meet other neighbours, feign fright at the sight of little monsters, and sing ‘Let it Go!’ along with every Anna and Elsa that come up our steps. As someone who believes in the importance of connecting, caring for others, living generously, and supporting kids and families, Halloween is awesome.
It might come as a surprise that a Christian pastor would be such an advocate of Halloween. After all, isn’t Halloween all about witches and goblins? That doesn’t really seem to fit.
When Jesus entered into the story of humanity, religious people thought that they had it all figured out. Do this and don’t do that, and you’ll be in God’s good books. Carefully manage your reputation, stay clean, and you’ll be OK. But then Jesus came and spent time at parties, with the ‘wrong’ people on the ‘wrong’ side of the tracks. It turns out that taboo people and activities didn’t faze Jesus. His reputation was secure, he knew who he was. He came to show God’s love in the most hands-on active ways imaginable. Jesus changed the world by showing us how to love others well. It’s in the engaging and loving of others that people and places come to life. Like Jesus, we aren’t meant to hide or shun, but enter in every moment with peace and joy knowing that God is already there.
Every Halloween I’m reminded that we can truly create meaningful, safe, fun, and connected neighbourhoods. When parents and children emerge from their homes and are welcomed at each door with candy and a smile, I get a little more hopeful about the kind of community that we are becoming. Each day we have the opportunity to carry on this spirit of hope and kindness, of generosity and friendship. When viewed in this light, Halloween is not this evil day where cruelty and deceit reign. Rather, because of the friendship and care we hope to extend to one another, we are making Halloween an entirely new kind of celebration. Beneath the Minecraft and Batman costumes, and behind the pumpkins and candy, we’re discovering that Halloween is the story of a community that cares.
Halloween may be over and we’ve enjoyed raiding the leftover candy. But consider how we might continue to build on the connections we’ve made this year. When we realize that below the surface of our neighbourhoods are people that trust, care, and know how to have fun – it could change the way we see each other throughout the rest of the year.