When you are a child Halloween is a glorious time. Just walk up to a house and they give you candy. How can it get better than this? When I was little, my younger brother and I would start trick or treating the moment the sunset and we wouldn’t come back until the moment before we knew we would be in big trouble. What a feeling it would be when we would finally get home and pour out onto the floor that pile of sweet treasure. Of course the first thing we would do is compare piles – determining who got the most stuff. And then there would be trading, and wheeling and dealing, that often would result in some sort of fight.
The problem with many of us is that this type of thinking doesn’t end once Halloween night ends, or even once our childhood ends. The pile of stuff changes, but our thinking stays the same. What is mine is mine and I want as much as possible. We get obsessed with, stressed over, and even possessed by our stuff. It turns us, in the spirit of Halloween, into almost a monster. We like the idea of discipleship but we want to make sure it is done in a comfortable, non-intrusive sort of way. In a way, you could say we can get tricked by our treats! We are fooled by the possessions of our life so that instead of owning things, the things in our life begin to own us.
It is hard in the consumeristic society we live in, with the many distractions and temptations out there, to listen to God’s call for us. The Romans at the time of Jesus had an expression that still fits today, “money is like seawater, the more you drink the thirstier you become.” And this temptation keeps us from being the people of God we were created to be.
We know that on Halloween eventually the kids do shed their frightening costumes and in the same way we should think of how we might shed that which hides us from God and from one another. Don’t hide from or cover up what possibilities God has placed in you. We should remember that Halloween, or originally “All Hallows Eve,” began as a time when church people would dress up in costumes as famous Saints in order to honor them on this night before All Saints Day. When we disguise ourselves the way we do we certainly don’t live up to our saintly heritage. Like saints of old, we are called to show how God’s image works within us and respond to the invitation to reflect God’s light in all we do.
So don’t get engulfed by the pile of stuff in your life, no matter how sweet it all might seem. Do not fear looking deep within you, under the layers that may disguise the true you, and walk out of the darkness this Halloween into a light that does shine – in you, for you, and through you.
See you in church,
Yours in Christ
Rev. Herb Taylor