OH NO! IT’S ALMOST HALLOWEEN AGAIN

Well, this is weird.  It is Sunday morning and I am not at church!  What is that all about, Pastor Greenbean?  Well, the hot water heater is not making hot water.  It did this yesterday, and the guy came and fixed it, but it looks like he didn’t.  So us Greenbeans smell bad this morning and it sounds very spiritual, or at least Levitical, to not go to church when you are unclean.  So, that gives me time to write tomorrow’s blog today.  Lucky you.

Because I am not actively involved in church ministry right now, I am able to look at other churches with a little bit of a learning eye and what I see is that there are two types of approaches churches make toward Halloween.  Let’s call them Type A and Type B.

The Type A church sees Halloween as a cultural phenomena that blends with the seasonal changes.  These churches often have pumpkin patch trips with children and families and will usually have something like a fall carnival, often called Fall Festival.  These churches may or may not have their activities planned actually on Halloween.

The Type B church hates Halloween and views it as a frightening spiritual counter-attack to the gospel.  These churches either avoid Halloween altogether, or, if they do engage in Halloween activities, it is always billed as an ‘alternative’ to Halloween.  These are the churches that go to “Hell Houses,” which are weird evangelistic haunted houses that try to frighten people into loving Jesus, because fear always works.

Guess which one I am?  Am I a Type A or Type B?

Here is the answer–I am a little bit of both.  My inner Mr. Rogers really thinks churches do better with pumpkin patches and cake walks than botched abortions and drunk driving tableaus.  However, I am also a little frightened by Halloween.  Something about it does not sit well with me and I’ve never really understood why.  Halloween usually finds me on edge and waiting for sunrise on November 1 when I can celebrate All Saints Day.  Some of my more reformed friends always encourage me that it is not Halloween but instead Reformation Day and I should see it that way.  The problem is that no one dresses up as Martin Luther on October 31.  They dress up as the devil.

What I’ve come to embrace over the years, mainly with recovery help from my wonderful family, is that I fear Halloween for irrational reasons, but fear is not the substance of faith.  Would Jesus be afraid of Halloween?  I think not.  Instead, he would transform it by his celebratory presence.  So that is why in practice I am really more of a fall festival-kind-of-guy than a hand-out-gospel-tracts-instead-candy kind of guy.  But if you do hand out gospel tracts, for the love of all that is good and decent at least give it along with full size candy bars.

SOME OTHER HALLOWEEN POSTS

Hot Cocoa Makes Halloween Sweeter

Halloween and Easter

Autumn–A Wonderful Time of Year

Happy Halloween:  Arrgghhhh

MY HALLOWEEN THEMED SHORT STORY

JOLLY ROGERS

AUTUMN’S MISCELLANY

Fall has announced itself with all the tell-tale signs of autumnal change.  Leaves are falling gently to the ground.  The temperature has dipped low enough to require a jacket or coat when leaving to go out and about.  The rain has picked up in intensity and frequency.  The World Series is on the television.  Supermarkets are selling large amounts of chocolate candy.  The first round of conferences at school.

Three items are on my mind this Friday evening, even if they are only loosely related by being specifically fall topics.

1.  Apparently corn is a tricky substance–(link and more link)?  A man and a woman were so befuddled by a corn maze that they not only could not find their way out, but they called 911.  That’s right, they called 911 to rescue them out from a corn maze.  Really?  Part of the reason they called 911 was because they had a small baby.  I worry about the safety of that child.  I mean, I grew up in cornfields and often harvested it by the bushel or even in heavy years truckload.  Corn is not dangerous.  You can walk right through it.  It is not an M. Night Shyamalan movie with aliens in the field nor is it a creepy movie about children who live in the corn.  Its corn.  I wonder if this was not some kind of prank, because it is hard to imagine this.Would you be my neighbor?

2.  Halloween, though eschewed by many Christ-followers (for completely understandable reasons) is a wonderful time to meet your neighbors and interact with the world.  Last year I began a practice, which I will do again this year, of serving up hot cocoa for my trick-or-treaters as well as yummy candy.  I’ve found sometimes parents like the hot cocoa and it allows for a moment of social interaction.  I also like to emphasize, in our worship, Reformation Day (although I am far from reformed, but admire the boldness of the Reformers) and appreciate the liturgical aspects of All Saints Day.  It is a neat time of year with rich and meaningful religious themes.

3.  Many churches participate in some kind of Fall Festival or Halloween-ie-esque party.  Ours is called Autumnfest and is this Sunday.  I’ve been trying to think up of different names we could use, though.  Maybe Pumpkinalooza.  Cake-Walkathon.  Candymania.  Sugar High and the By and By.  XtremeChurch.  Corny.  Corn Pone 2011.

It is hard to find one particular name that covers all we do—hayride, food, cake walk, sack races, preschool games, etc…  It is always great fun, a sort of heritage celebration of how we used to be; back when the harvest was important to most every family and America was an agricultural agrarian society.  Our Autumnfest always has a bit of everything.

Except a corn maze.