If you grew up during my era, the images of Charlie Brown's annual Pumpkin Patch cartoon was a staple. We didn't have 700 channels to deliver content, and the networks always played Charlie Brown's episode of Halloween every October 31. When I was flipping the channels last night, I saw this episode starting to be re-played again, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember as a kid the times we dressed up around Halloween and played make believe superheros, sports stars, pirates, and even a couple of cartoons, just to have fun. (and there was a load of candy each October 31.)
At the same time, my church demonized Halloween. They came up with Harvest Festivals, Carnivals, and 'like halloween events' to make sure we weren't out on the streets sacrificing small animals (or whatever they thought teenagers would try to equate this EVIL holiday with at the time.) I vividly remember our youth leaders showing us musicians worshipping Satan, DVD series of Satan worshippers who all came together at Halloween, and the message was STEAR CLEAR. It was enough to scare the living daylights out of church attending kids. And I remember thinking "I don't think Charlie Brown worships Satan. It's just make believe."
But as with most programs, the heart in creating Halloween alternatives was good. The execution was poorly thought out. All we were doing at my church growing up was mirroring what Halloween was and calling it something different. To this parishioner, it was awfully confusing.
Which brings me to Duck Dynasty.
Last week's Halloween Episode showed Willie and the boys converting the warehouse into a haunted house. Kids came by while the characters of the show dressed up and had a great time giving candy away, dressing up in their favorite costumes, but all in good fun.
At the end of the show, Phil (the dad), prayed, "Thank you Lord for showing us the difference between make believe and reality...In Jesus name"
I couldn't believe it.
Here, from one of the most popular shows on television today, was a group of faith believing people who actually participated in Halloween without all the demons, devils, and witches. They actually found a way to rise above the frey and have fun on a day where it might be interpreted a different way. And in the end, they just called it like it is, it's just make believe.
We have a church here in Durango Colorado on the main street downtown who take a similar approach every year. All the kids in town come to third street to trick or treat on Halloween. Instead of leaving the light off and ignoring the thousands of people who walk by the building, the church actually facilitates a fun carnival like event ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT. Can you believe that?
The mission isn't to worship the devil.
They don't compromise their beliefs.
They're not trying to encourage any sort of ill will.
They're just looking for a place where people are already moving, and they give them a safe, fun, night to remember. All in the name of make believe.
Sometimes I think we take life a little TOO serious. The other night I heard of a neighbor who was going to shut the lights off in her house as a protest to the EVIL HALLOWS EVE. And I thought to myself, "Self...is that really what Jesus would do?" She claimed to be a follower of Jesus, standing up for what's right and true, but she was ignoring the very people in her neighborhood she may never have another opportunity to get to know.
What if, instead of a silent protest, there was a way to reach out and have fun with the kids in the neighborhood. It wouldn't take much. A bowl of candy, and a coffee station for parents, and who knows? You might even meet someone living right next door you've never had the chance to meet.
Sure, she'll make a statement of how she despises the art of evil, but she'll forever be known as the scrooge lady who wouldn't even give any candy away.
I'm not advocating the roots of Halloween some sort of pure history.
But really? Are we really going to become the strange people known more for what we're against, instead of re-thinking a creative way to extend a hand of hospitality to our neighbors.
I'm pretty sure most of the neighborhood understand Halloween as a Make Believe night. I for one have never seen my neighbors working diligently to worship Satan. Most just want to dress up like Iron Man for a night and count the piles of candy handed out in the neighborhood.
So take a step back and ask yourself How can you display your own spiritual journey on a controversial evening? You never know...It might be a great chance to show your neighbors how much you care about them over how much you need to be right in your own theology of nights. And after all....it's just a day.