Thomas McKenzie
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Halloween, Out of the Church Ghetto

No one is talking about Halloween.

I've been to two Halloween events already with my children, one at the zoo and one at our house. But, with the election and All Saints' Day, I have honestly not really thought about it.

So, in honor of my thoughtlessness, but in order to try to say something about how I approach this holiday, I here offer a reprint of something I wrote on this blog a year ago at this time:

I encourage all the members of my congregation to stay away from church buildings on Halloween. No "harvest parties," no "trunk or treats."

Why? Because this is the one night of the year that neighbors feel comfortable about knocking on each others' doors. This is the one night you have an excuse to get to know people who never speak to you, ask people their names and shatter some of our American Isolationism. In other words, this is the night when we can actually begin to love our neighbors.

I find it depressing that Christians choose to spend this night in their churches, hiding from the evil world. Going to their "Harvest Parties," Christians choose to follow Jesus by clustering with one another rather than making themselves available to their neighbors. We thereby create for ourselves a holiday-time ghetto.

Oh, I know. You might tell me that these Harvest Parties are places where you can bring your unchurched friends. Fair enough. I'm sure there are people who started going to church because their friends invited them to a Harvest Party. But, as an evangelism practice, I honestly believe getting to know your neighbors is more important than getting someone into a church building through the lure of games and candy.

Some people might also say "but Halloween comes from pagan sources." That is true. But Christmas trees, Easter egg hunts, and birthday parties also come from pagan sources, and I don't see us avoiding them. Unless you are a Jehovah's Witness, anyway.

So, this Halloween, join us in a profoundly Christian tradition. Get to know your neighbors. Spend time with your kids or grandkids. Give away candy as an act of love to children who can not repay you; and in this way be like Jesus.

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