Here's the deal...I love trick-or-treating...always have, always will. Chrissy does too. Now I've met TONS of Christian families over the years that will have nothing to do with Halloween, trick-or-treating, costumes, or anything that even **sniffs** of that holiday...and that's cool, I guess. I'm not gonna try to convert or preach to anyone, I just wanted to share a quick story about how our family looks at it...(actually, this is probably gonna be a bit lengthy, but hang with me).
Chrissy and I grew up trick-or-treating. The first 2 Halloweens that Gavin was alive, we dressed him up and took him trick-or-treating....just seemed like the natural thing to do. Last year was different. Starting around August of last year, the Lord was growing Chrissy and I in so many areas of life, especially in areas of parenting....biblical headship of the father in the home, family/home centric discipleship and evangelism, family integration in the church, shepherding and keeping our children's hearts, Biblical discipline, being super conscious of what and who was influencing our children, pointing their hearts toward Christ vs. behavior modification...I could keep going on. We refer to this period of time as "our awakening"..The Lord was showing us so much so fast, it became quite exciting, but also a bit overwhelming. We were reevaluating so many areas in our lives...sort of like how in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 we are told to "Test all things; hold fast to what is good". Then, all of a sudden, Halloween was right around the corner. By the end of October, our heads were spinning with all that we have been awakened to. Halloween and it's celebration of it was a big thing to evaluate, it's something that many Christians completely disassociate themselves from and ignore. Honestly, by the time we had to start thinking about where we stood on the issue of Halloween...Chrissy and I were both mentally shot, spiritually stretched, and neither one of us had the emotional energy to invest in coming to a conclusion about where we fell on this issue. So, in our exhaustion, we decided to do what many Christian families do.
Turned out all the lights. drew the shades closed tight. Listened while scores of trick-or-treaters took to the streets of our neighborhood and secretly prayed that no one would attempt to knock on our door (or egg our house because we weren't handing out candy). We tried to pretend that this "evil" holiday didn't exist. We put on some hot cocoa and read some books with the kids until bed time.
It was the worst. But, the holiday came and went and before we knew it, Thanksgiving and Christmas arrived and we didn't give it much thought or discuss how we felt about it...we kind of just left it alone and moved on.
Fast forward to this Summer. The Lord had been leading me to verses in Scripture that metaphorically liken the Love of Christ to light. Salt and Light. A lamp on a Stand, a City on a Hill, Hide it under a bushel **NO!!** I'm gonna let it Shine. We visited and revisited this concept in family worship lots of different ways. Throughout the Summer, Chrissy and the kids would load up the wagon with veggies from our garden and stroll through the neighborhood offering produce to our neighbors. We were using these types of opportunities to teach Gavin and Ivy about Shining the Love of Christ into "dark places": households where we knew that the people there were not Christians. When it came time to figure our Halloween this year, we knew that we couldn't hide....that's not how we roll....that's certainly not how Christ rolled.
"...a city on a hill cannot be hidden" Matt 5:14
This year, The Lord led us to be a positive presence in our neighborhood and show the love of Christ by providing for basic human needs in a fun, friendly, and unique environment. We didn't give a name to what we did, but if we had, it would have been something like "Light The Night" or some other witty something-or-other like that. Here's what went down:
The day before, Gavin and I strung Christmas lights around the perimeter of our driveway and spent a good 90 minutes brightly decorating our driveway with sidewalk chalk. We had picked up some good tracts sharing about God's Love and Christ's sacrifice and wrapped the candy up in them. Each kid that gets candy from us is going to get The Word as well.
On the day of trick-or-treating, it was cold. COLD. Maybe even in the upper 30's after the sun had set. We set up a campfire in a little fire pit in the driveway and put a huge pot of hot buttered cider on a camping stove out to offer anyone who needed a warm up. We hung out and handed out candy in our driveway. Trick-or-treating was from 5:30-7:30 on a Sunday this year...the Patriots had a 4:15 kickoff. There were TONS of dads out there who were sore that they had to miss the bulk of the Pat's game to take their kids out. So, we plugged in a radio and had the game on. We invited some dear friends of our to come and hang out with us, and all took turns taking the kids trick-or-treating and manning the driveway goings on. It was awesome...usually parents don't say a word to you while their kids knock at your door, but here, out in the open, they kind of HAD to interact with us. We weren't preachy at all, we didn't ask any questions about their beliefs or push ours on them, we simply asked then if they were cold and offered them some time around the fire and a cup of hot cider. Most would initially graciously decline, but often one parent in their group would take us up on the cider, and once the aroma of the spices (we added nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and orange zest) hit their nostrils, they were all sold. Dads were hanging around the fire listening to the a few downs of the Pat's game on the radio. One dad said to us: "Man, you guys are catering to peoples basic human needs right here: hot drink, warmth, candy, football...you guys are alright". So many people left our property with smiles on their faces (and warm cider in their bellies). Some dads were content to hang up at the top of the driveway, not wanting to venture down into our little corral of fun...we'd yell up the Patriot's score to them...they'd offer a "Thanks, man!!" back. We ended up handing out about 50 cups of cider and over 100 tracts/candy. At one point I had taken Gavin to hit a few houses and a kid who was with a group of teens noticed me from the other side of the street...He yelled across to me "Hey, there's the guy that gave me that cool book... thanks, man". Awesome.
After Trick-or-treating was over, we all went inside, put on some coffee, grabbed the guitar and did some singing. It was an amazing night. It is so wonderful to be used to shine Christ's Love into the lives of others. Now, here's where I'll let myself get a bit preachy...
To Christian families out there: STOP HIDING!!! We have an amazing opportunity here. Halloween is the one night out of the entire year that scores of unsaved people voluntarily walk onto OUR property and knock on OUR doors. It's reverse evangelism. They are coming to US. They are literally a captive audience for like 30 seconds for us to speak some level of Christ's Love, Light, and Truth into their lives. A City On A Hill CANNOT Be Hidden.
I could go on, but I'll stop here and post some pics from the evening. Thanks for reading....
Here's a shot of the driveway...Check out the tall ice cream cone on the left hand side...Gavin named the flavors....the gray scoop he insisted was "hat" flavored. yup. Hat.
A daytime shot of our little setup.
A shot of the setup at night. left to right: fire pit, candy station, cider station.
A cow riding a horse....what of it?
There's a new Sheriff in Town....and he'd like some milk, please.
Goose hunting and extreme cuteness, respectively.
See Ya Next Year!!