A Different Halloween
By Kim Winkleman
Our usual Halloween routine is that my husband, John, takes our boys out trick-or-treating, while I stay home and pass out candy. I’m more of a home-body and going out into the neighborhood in the dark with loud, exuberant children has never seemed all that appealing to me. Even though I do enjoy the handing out of candy, I really like to do it from the comfort and quiet of being in my house, closing the door after each group gets their treats, never having to interact for more than a minute with anyone.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Rena preached a sermon about “Radical Inclusivity.” She talked about the possibility of seeing the Kingdom of God break through in something as simple as sharing food. She said that the way Jesus spent his time with others was one of the primary ways that he showed what God’s love is like.
The sermon challenged me to think about with whom I usually spend time and who I usually invite to share in my hospitality. It’s almost always those that I know, trust, and like. But Rena spoke about how being radically inclusive, extending hospitality to those who we might not know or who we would not usually be associating with, opens our hearts and changes us. In doing so, we can learn to love people like God does.
The next week, Pastor Gary preached a sermon about the parables Jesus tells about the shepherd who goes out looking for his lost sheep, the woman who searches her house for her lost coin, and the father who looks and waits for his lost son. From this sermon, I was struck by the persistence and risk-taking that each person takes to seek out that which was lost, and then the great joy that each person has when they find what they had lost.
I felt challenged by the fact that I mostly interact with other Christians in my life, when God’s heart is persistently and passionately seeking out those who don’t know Him or who are marginalized. I felt challenged to get out of my safety zone a bit and stretch myself in who I show love to. I felt like the way I show love has not been communicating God’s deep value of every person. Gary had also challenged us to live life in a way that demands explanation from those around us and then to not self-censor ourselves.
As I reflected on these sermons and prepared for Halloween, I had the idea of getting out of my house during the trick-or-treating hours, and setting up a hot-cider station in my yard. Just to be out and a little more available to whomever God might bring my way, and, in some small way, to share hospitality with anyone who comes by–not to hoard my hospitality just for my friends.
I had a great time that evening. I pulled up a Halloween playlist on my phone, served cider and candy, and chatted up anyone who came by. I met new neighbors, re-met neighbors whose names I had forgotten, saw lots of parents from my kids’ schools, and had a fairly lengthy conversation with a mom of another middle school kid about some of the challenges we are facing with our kids being in middle school. This was someone I have known as an acquaintance for several years, but it was by far the lengthiest and most significant conversation we’ve had.
Did I change the world? No. But I did get out of my comfort zone and hopefully made a few folks feel welcomed and served. Maybe I’ve paved the way a bit for future conversations and relationships. Hopefully I’ve shown a little bit of God’s love to my neighborhood and become a bit more like God myself.