Hospitality and the *scary* holiday

Halloween is only 13 days away. Hang out with me while we talk Halloween please. I recognize that many Christians view Halloween as spooky, scary, and even demonic. Many of the decorations and costumes are terrifying and evil, or at the very least, creepy. I don’t like any of that, but those things don’t negate the importance of acknowledging and participating in this holiday.

I have a few distinct memories of Halloween as a child. One involves handing out “power bracelets” with a tract. Another is a more generic memory of turning off the lights and not acknowledging that we were home. I also remember going to a Fall Festival one year at my church and dressing up like a Bible character - take your pick of which one because they all kind of look the same.

Despite all of this, I enjoy Halloween. Again, bear with me please…and to learn more about the full history of Halloween this link to the History channel website provides some great info and is a quick read. Ok, on to why I say I enjoy this holiday and why you and your family should actively participate in Halloween.

  1. My son loves to dress up and has quite the imagination. He really couldn’t care less about the candy and just loves the act of going door-to-door and wearing cool costumes.

  2. Andy and I love dressing up and we love a good theme! Our first Halloween, when we were just dating, I was Flip and Andy was Flop - together we were flip-flops! We literally wore giant flip flops on our backs and it was AWESOME! Once my son came along two of my favorites were the fire theme (firefighter, dalmatian, and house on fire) and the Christmas theme where Frosty and Rudolph tagged along with a pint-sized Santa delivering candy canes to each door and totally throwing off every single adult as they said “ummm thanks but we’re supposed to give you candy!” as they chuckled.

  3. Hospitality literally knocks on your door! This is where I really want to park this conversation if you’re still here….

While anyone could make a case for Christmas being a time of year for people to be the most welcoming and willing to engage with others, I argue that Halloween is actually the greatest opportunity for hospitality. That’s not to say Christmas isn’t a close second (stay tuned for all sorts of fun things in December to foster hospitality!). No other day of the year is it completely acceptable to encourage your children to go door-to-door and ask for candy. There is no other day of the year that the nation, as a whole, purposefully leaves their home to visit strangers! Halloween is a phenomenal opportunity to practice the original, biblical translation of hospitality which is that of “guest-friendship” and “love to strangers"!!

Hebrews 13:2 states, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” This doesn’t mean a cute little toddler dressed like an angel saying “trick or treat.” This means that in loving strangers and making them feel welcome we may literally be entertaining angels!!!! What!?!

Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Y’all - we are FREE! We do not view death in terms of gore and zombies; we know that death, for believers in Jesus, is nothing like the torture depicted but instead is glorious and perfect. We do not find pleasure in the creepy aspects of Halloween because those things represent far more accurately the afterlife for those without Christ. We are free to live in peace knowing that we are forgiven and will spend eternity with Jesus! Halloween is the perfect time to plant a seed of light and hope by serving our neighbors and trick-or-treaters in love!!

John 13:35 remind us, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." I want to love more than just my fellow believers. I want to love like Jesus did. I don’t want to say that I love my neighbors and strangers and not do anything about it. Authenticity is my goal - do my words match my actions?? What better way to show your neighbors you truly love them than by meeting them, interacting with them and being a part of their lives?

So what are practical ways to let your house be a testimony of the Light and Joy found in Christ this Halloween?

  1. Start by turning on the actual light on your front porch. This is not the day to hide or go to bed early. Halloween is not the day to plan to be gone. If your neighborhood does a Trunk or Treat, participate if possible! If you can, set up out on your driveway. When we were in TN people would set up a small fire pit and just hang out on the driveways. It was awesome and it saved my little one’s legs from extra walking (which matters when you’re little).

  2. If you are like us and will be at your church’ Fall Festival or have other plans, no worries! Leave a bowl of candy at the door.

I can hear it now - “but what if one kid takes it all and then there’s not any candy for the other kiddos?” First, the kid who takes all of the candy will have a tummy-ache later. Or maybe will have the Jimmy Fallon Halloween candy stunt pulled on him/her. It’s ok - Halloween is not the time to turn into Candy Vigilante (unless that’s your costume; if so, rock on). Second, if you don’t leave any candy out then no one would get any….sooooo… one is better than none! :)

3. Have the best candy. This in no way means that you have to have a King Size candy bar for every kid. It does mean that if you or your kids wouldn’t want to eat it, don’t buy it. (I’m specifically looking at you gross black and orange wrapped nougat grossness.)

If we are wanting to set ourselves apart in the neighborhood, then what better way than by having the best candy on the block? Give away heaping handfuls and not just 3 pieces. Buy Goldfish crackers or fruit snacks. Have non-food items for kids with allergies (temporary tattoos and glow sticks are fun options). Remember, we have a freedom and joy the world is looking for! Make sure they notice it when they come to your house!

4. Introduce yourself when appropriate. Introducing yourself to a couple of kids may be weird, but if you see a family from down the street take the time to exchange names. Have a short conversation. Again, Halloween is the time to love on strangers! Do more than just open the door, shove candy in the kid’s bucket and close the door.

5. HAVE FUN! As Christians we should have the most hope to offer! We should be excited to have the chance to show love to our neighbors by passing out candy. This simple act of hospitality is a small gesture that can begin opening doors for conversations and community!!!

If you were challenged or encouraged by this post, would you do me a favor and share it on your social media?

Also, I’d love to hear your comments below on how your family participates in Halloween!