Halloween is fast approaching, the time of year when flashing pumpkins and fake spiderwebs adorn houses and kids eat an inordinate amount of candy, and the church has no idea what to do with itself. The two most popular options are a rejection of Halloween completely (some kind of Judgment/scared into heaven house) or a sanitized (“safe”) alternative to trick or treating on the streets (Trunk or Treat).
I’ll admit that I find the former bears witness to a theological mindset far from my own. So, I’ll trust that those who run these foretastes of eternal torment have the best hopes for their attendees. Even if I’m not down with the theological underpinnings of this move, I’ll grant that the impulse isn’t totally off base. Christians are supposed to offer a witness to a kingdom not of this world (salt of the earth and all), so inviting people to consider this other reality isn’t so bad (I’m still not on board with the whole approach, but enough said).
So, how about Trunk or Treat? I haven’t heard a theological or biblical apologetic for Trunk or Treat, but I’d imagine it goes something like this: the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, kids can no
longer safely Trick or Treat in the neighborhood (or carve pumpkins with the pipe-smoking
grandfather figure and his dog) without fear, so let’s bring the neighborhood to the church parking lot or gym and do what the rest of the world is doing at home, at church.
I’m not opposed to Trunk or Treat offerings at church, I’m just surprised by the lack of imaginative work done by the church on this day each year.
All Hallows’ Eve is the beginning of/prelude to All Saints’ Day–a day to commemorate the saints and the reality we confess in the words of the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
What if churches offered a service, even just a short evening prayer service, witnessing to that aspect of Halloween? I realize some churches already do this. There is an order of readings and collects in the Book of Common Prayer, orders of worship for All Saints’ Day/Sunday could be imaginatively adapted for an All Hallows’ Eve Vigil, or if none of those suit, we could create a liturgy for the occasion.
We can keep the candy in Halloween, I’m just hoping we (the church) can offer something other than, or in addition to, a “safe place” for kids to get their candy fix.
Duke Chapel has a wonderful All Hallows’ Eve service every year and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is offering All Hallows’ Eve Liturgy and Dance Party (You can read Ezekial 37 AND do the Monster Mash!).
Again, no answers here, just asking and hoping for a little more.