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Home > 2013 > October Online Only > Where Does a Christian Belong on Halloween?

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The love and devotion between Tabitha and her neighbors had been built over thousands of unexceptional everyday encounters. I imagine her passing her neighbors along the street, greeting them in the market, and lingering together in shaded conversations away from the hot sun. It probably also involved more than a few funerals (her neighbors were widows living in a military town). Most of it was probably pretty unglamorous stuff. They were daily, often anonymous encounters of kingdom-love. Tabitha was a beacon of faithful participation.

Faithful participation happens when we coach little league, attend neighborhood association meetings or volunteer at the local school. Faithful participation happens when we choose to plant our garden in the front yard instead of the backyard, so that our weekends can be spent greeting our neighbors passing by (and distributing the always 'more than you asked for' zucchini crop). Faithful participation happens when we choose to spend an unstructured Saturday morning in the neighborhood coffeehouse or an evening on the front porch, instead of hiding away in the TV room. It is found in the daily, often anonymous encounters of kingdom-love.

Faithful participation might also mean attending more than a few funerals along the way.

What Jason Did

Pastor Jason decided that even though the Harvest Festival was important, the opportunity to be at home greeting his neighbors was more important. He explained his heart to his boss and was graciously released from his church responsibilities that October 31 evening.

Jason went home and (armed with a heaping bowl of sweets) spent the evening in his entryway. Every time there was a knock, he opened the door with a grin and a greeting. He knew a few of the children's names and complimented them on their creative costumes.

His real joy was found in the parent chaperones. Some names he knew and so many he didn't. He saw the couple who live two blocks over who love to work their garden. In his five years in the neighborhood, though he had greeted them many times, he had never asked them their names: "Bill and Jenny." He made a mental note and promised himself he wouldn't forget. He met the man who owns the neighborhood grocery store and even got a smile out of the grumpy president of the local PTA. All the while, he was adding to his mental map the names and faces of his neighborhood.

All through the evening Jason marveled, not only was he participating with his neighbors during a pagan holiday, but the holiday itself was actually funneling his neighbors to his front door.

He thought, "If that isn't just like God, I don't know what is."

Tony Kriz is a writer and church leader from Portland, Oregon, and author in residence at Warner Pacific College.

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Tony Kriz is a writer and church leader from Portland, Oregon, and Author in Residence at Warner Pacific College.

Posted: October 28, 2013

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Displaying 2–6 of 8 comments

Marshall Shelley

November 01, 2013  8:40am

An odd thing happened last night as I sat at home waiting for trick-or-treaters. Only 5 showed up at the door all afternoon and evening! My Kit-kats are still in the bowl this morning. What's odd is that last Saturday, literally thousands of trick-or-treaters were at the mall, going store to store for treats. And at our church's "Trunk or Treat," there were hundreds there in the afternoon. Makes me wonder, Tony: if fewer parents are taking kids door to door for Halloween, and more are willing to go to the community's "safe places to trick or treat," then where is the best place for Christians to be on Halloween? I'm stumped.

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audrey ruth

October 31, 2013  11:59pm

Daniel did not study magic and astrology. This is what he DID do: "And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel [and his friends]. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom." NOTE the words "wisdom and understanding" were BETTER than what the world had to offer. Yes, Tabitha's (Dorcas') Greek friends loved her. This does not mean that she violated God's Word in any way to be their friend. Jesus said we are to be IN the world but not OF it. I can see giving out candy with child-friendly Gospel messages if one has no children, but when my children were young I didn't find it appropriate for them to see horrific masks and sounds at our door all evening long. The Lord led us to focus on October 31 as Reformation Day, the day Martin Luther's 95 statements made history.

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Tony Kriz

October 30, 2013  10:04am

Daniel, Thanks for contributing to the conversation. -tony

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Daniel Fender

October 29, 2013  4:47pm

To be more specific we do two things: 1. While we trick or treat we give buy 2 dozen roses & with an invitation to a neighborhood Christmas party. We focus on neighbors we know and those closest to our home. This last year we had a great Christmas party. Not one car pulled up but the house was packed with 35+ neighbors! Halloween is one of those rare times when you can expect your neighbor to not only open the door but give you & your kids time to meet & enjoy the sweetness of being neighbors! Of course that sweetness involves candy as well! The counterintutive part of giving an invitation & a rose is that people don't expect it, are surprised & love it. Ironically my kids remember Halloween as the time we invite neighbors to celebrate Jesus’ birth! 2. We then come back home & set up a fire pit in the front yard & a canopy if the Portland drizzle has begun. We share hot cider with neighbors & hang out late into the night. We usually invite a handful of neighbors a few days before.

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Daniel Fender

October 29, 2013  4:17pm

Hey Tony, I really appreciated the insights you shared & the impulse toward our neighborhoods for Jesus' sake. A friend from our Community Group at the Gathering Church (www.thegatheringchurch.com)send a link to your article because this is exactly what we focused on the Thursday before Halloween. How can we be missional this Halloween? I, like may evangelicals, had in the past pushed away from participating in that "dark day"... until a neighbor, who celebrated holidays-especially pagan holidays-with exemplary pagan vigor, invited my family to join his in trick or treating. I will never forget it. I was in his living room as our kids played together and I was praying for gospel opportunities ... & God opened wide a door I had not expected. I was invited to pick from two totes of past costumes so we could spend hours meeting neighbors & loving our new friends. Since that fateful Halloween my family & I have sought to redeem the day and live the wisdom of Colossians 4:2-6.

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