I’m so proud of my son. Last year as we shopped for Isaac’s Halloween costume, he came face to face with a terrible choice. “Do I go as the white ninja or the giant wiener?” Silent assassin, or walking tube steak? Look cool, or look like an idiot? Ninja or wiener?? NINJA or WIENER??
I’m so proud. He was the most glorious giant walking hotdog you can imagine. We still haven’t stopped laughing.
Yes we are. We are Trick-or-Treating, baby. It’s a highlight of my kids’ year.
So now we must confront the reasonable and oft-touted criticism from the Christian community that such behavior smacks of devil worship and wiccan hobelty-gobelty that should be AVOIDED and RESISTED, not CONDONED and CELEBRATED. (By the way, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever seen “hobelty-gobelty” in a sentence, but it was awesome. I’m proud of that one.)
I respect those who hold the danger signs at Halloween. I do. I have seen Halloween growing in popularity and in creeposity year by year. It’s unsettling. Going into the local Walgreens for some Nyquil now means walking past the hall of death with all of its automated screaming ghouls and skeletons, red light-bulb eyes flashing, shredded tunics waving creepily in the breeze. I hate it. There are several stores now that I don’t want to take my five-year-olds into until November comes around… and with it, the smiling stuffed turkey displays and cardboard cornucopias in the windows. Our family doesn’t dismiss the power of darkness, and we don’t make light of the increasing cultural embrace of death, occult symbolism, and the horrific. It’s all death. It’s all dark. It’s all Godless.
And that’s why our family goes Trick-or-Treating with enthusiasm every year.
Here’s the deal… God’s whole story, from the first word in Genesis about His creation of the universe, to the final “Amen” on the last page of your Bible (it’s on page 1094 in my Bible), and even right now – today - in the ongoing story God is writing before He returns… it’s ALL about one thing.
REDEMPTION. For His glory. REDEMPTION. Of me and my muck. Of you and your ugly sin-stained heart. Of my selfish kids. Of everything. God is a God who glories in REDEEMING His people and His creation… and this culture. I’m on His team and in His family. Therefore, I carry with me in my everyday walking-around life a desire to REDEEM for HIS glory any scrap of our culture that can be used for His purposes. I love taking musical vibes from our culture and using them to help people worship. I love borrowing ideas – metaphors – parables – from our culture, and using them to teach God’s truth. I want to regain and reclaim cultural ground for King Jesus. I love it.
So for the Skogerboes, Halloween is all about our FAMILY enjoying each other, having fun, and interacting with our community with a free pass. There isn’t a single other day of the year where we get face-to-face time with so many of our neighbors. Almost everyone is in a good mood. Kids are EVERYWHERE in our neighborhood. And we are quick to share smiles and make some eye contact with people we otherwise almost never see. We’re opening doors – literally and figuratively.
And I believe God is all in favor of deeply connected family relationships and being a light to the neighbors. Good times.
I also wince sometimes when I see local churches attempts to be “separate and other than” around Halloween. Sometimes, church people, our attempt to provide an alternative “Harvest Festival” or “All Saints Celebration” or “Wiener Roast for the Holy Ghost” just comes across as… well… dorky. Kinda dorky. And, you know what? I don’t even mean to criticize anyone or any church. I get it. Most of the world around us seems to be enamored with the darkness on Halloween, and local churches want to provide a fun, safe alternative.
The last time I was on staff at a church where an “All Saints Day” party for the neighborhood was being considered, I simply told the rest of the staff that I would be at home with my kids instead. It matters too much to them, and it is too great an opportunity for us right in our own neighborhood. I guess I’d just like to see more and more Christians engaging this culture with the LIGHT – right next door - on a day and a night that our enemy would like to see the darkness gain ground. No on my watch. Not at my house. Not on my street.
And just a few caveats to ensure a successfully un-creepoliscious Halloween experience for the Christian rug rats in your home…
(1) If you want to redeem culture and be a light, do not dress your children as ghouls, witches, zombies, or liberal politicians. (That was just a freebie for my right-wing evangelical readers. You’re welcome.) Giant processed meat-like food products are OK.
(2) Neither should you dress your children as Bible characters. I mean, there’s no moral problem with it, but your kids will resent you well into their early adulthood. (Kids, that was a freebie for you. You’re welcome.) To see this dorkiness-boosting practice in all of it’s glory, go here. So sad…
(3) Play the appropriate Christian music of choice in the background as children come to your door asking for hand-outs. Maybe someone will hear the heartfelt strains of Chris Tomlin or David Crowder and get saved. OK… probably not. But it’s like a secret code to your neighbors… “Pssst. Are you a Christian? Cuz WE’RE Christians. Really? Where do you guys go to church?” Chris Tomlin is like the Christian fish of the early church. Secret code.
(4) DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT hand out Bible tracts to Trick-or-Treaters unless they are also accompanied by liberal amounts of candy. The GOOD stuff, too. No “Bit-O-Honey” or black licorice. We’re talking Reese’s PB Cups and Snickers. Or cash. Cash is good. I once got a “tip” when I was working a part time job at Perkins. It was a clever tract designed to look like a $20 bill. You pull it out and the first word you see is “Disappointed?” I guess it was supposed to spread the good news of Jesus through guilt by questioning my motives while simultaneously exposing churchy people as cheapskates. If I didn’t work for a church at the time, I may have quit going. (That was a joke. Mostly.) For the love of Mike, don’t pull the bait-and-switch on kids at Halloween. Low blow. Personal foul.
(5) Remember this. If Jesus lives in you, you are not a slave anymore. You walk in FREEDOM. And you are an agent of REDEMPTION, a light-bearer. Those neighbors that moved in two houses away… you know. They moved in some time in July, but you don’t know their names yet? Yeah. It’s time. Walk over there with your cute kids dressed like ninjas. Or wieners. Either way you win.
Come to our house this year. We’ll be passing out the good stuff. And you can hear a little of the new Leeland album if you’re into that sort of thing.
OK. Let me have it. Am I off my rocker? What do YOU do with Halloween?
“5 keys to a sufficiently christian halloween :: wiener is a funny word” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.