The Christian community has mixed feelings about celebrating Halloween. Some believe that the holiday encourages us to celebrate the dark and evil forces in our world. Some view dressing up as zombies, witches, and ghosts is actually a mockery of the power of death and displays a recognition of God’s victory over the grave. Many others probably give the theology or spirituality behind the day little thought and view it only as a secular holiday with parties to prepare for, candy to buy, and costumes to assemble.
We go “all out” at our house. For years, we’ve hosted a big party to which I invite many (sometimes too many) of our family and friends. I make food and offer a home base to families who come to trick-or-treat in our festive neighborhood with houses that are close together with their porch lights blazing and candy bowls spilling over with sweet choices. Even as I write this today, the house is filled with the smells of chili and hot cider in preparation for tonight’s Halloween festivities. I love this time of year – even though yesterday at one point I looked around my house considering all that was yet to be done and I asked myself, why on earth do I do this??
I didn’t stay in that state of questioning long though, because I know exactly why I do this. I open our home year after year because I believe relationships are formed and deepened when we share our lives over food and conversation while we celebrate life events together. We draw closer to people when we invite them in and create an overlap of their lives and ours. It’s hard work sometimes. It costs us something. It’s easier to take care of ourselves – our own homes, our own kids, our own schedules. Believe me, I know. When I first felt the Lord moving me towards hosting a Halloween party about seven years ago, at first I resisted. Too messy. Too expensive. Too inconvenient. But I cannot tell you how much laughing and sharing and fun happens at our house during the crazy trick-or-treat hours. It’s the one evening each year that I know our home and family touch the lives of dozens and dozens of people that visit our home over a few short hours. And I’ve come to cherish every minute.
In this world of full schedules and ever-increasing responsibilities, I want to offer a word of encouragement. Remember to make time to invite them in. Friendships start and deepen because of an invitation. Invite someone to coffee, for lunch, or open your home and cook a simple meal for another couple or family. Be the initiator and bless someone with the most valuable gift you can offer – your time. The Gospel writers tell many stories of Jesus eating and celebrating with people. Let us follow His example and be builders of relationships. Peace!