Why I have changed my tune on Halloween and become a BIG fan

Having recently spent time in my beloved Beijing (and thanks, by the way dear BJ for having horrible air most of the time I was there, but then deciding to clean up your act about the moment my plane took off. But I digress.). Where was I? Oh yes, having recentely spent time in Beijing, I am struck afresh by how much of life happens on the streets.

The Heart of Halloween

Breakfast stands pop up.

Fruit and veggies to be sold.

Poop (some might say a little too much life).

Dancing, badminton, car washes.

Life, life, life!

Without garages to pull into and the high value of private space, there is a level of engagement that is different than life in the West.

People, we have an opportunity this Friday night to get out there and mingle with our neighbors. One of my very first blog posts encourage people to “Take back the streets.” In part I said:

I have mixed feeling about the “Fall Festivals” that have become the norm at many churches and other places of gathering. Part of me applauds the church looking for ways to be a haven and being willing to open their doors instead of close them. But another part is kind of turned off by the withdrawal and segregation. It’s the ONE night a year in America where we are socially sanctioned to wander around our neighborhoods, knock on each other’s doors and greet one another. The ONE night. And what have we done, we have said safety is more important than engagement (I told you, you might not agree).

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The main push back I have gotten is over the origin of Halloween. I really never intended to take a massive stand on Halloween. The truth is I care about relationships and finding connecting points. I don’t know much about the origins of Halloween and, frankly, it doesn’t really interest me because I believe nothing, absolutely nothing is beyond the hope of redemption.

Do bad things happen on Halloween? Sure. Do bad things happen other night of the year and in the name of evil. Absolutely (and tragically so). Do I ABHOR the evil perpetrated against children or cats? Big fat yes.

But as one who bears the Image of God, I also bear the image of fun and creativity and playfulness. Of connection and joy and giggles. Of memory building and traditions. Do I delight that God made us in His image? Bigger, Fatter Y-E-S.

Now, can you just tun off your lights and not engage on Friday night and still be an Image Bearer? Of course. And that’s fine!

However, if you’re looking for some creative ideas for Friday, here are a few I’ve heard:

1. A group of teachers in China live in a building shared with graduate students. They hung up a sign explaining about Trick-or-Treating and asked students who would be willing for foreign children to Trick-or-Treat to hang up one of the provided pumpkins.

2. A family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hands out hot dogs to those passing by their house. This year they wrote to a record label and and pitched the idea of Christmas Music CD’s being handed out with hot dogs. The record label LOVED the idea and sent 100 of David Crowder’s CD. My friends are not all that taken with Halloween, but they are taken with their neighbors and with Christmas. I only wish I lived closer because who doesn’t love a hot dog on a cold night?!

3. A church in Denver held their Fall Festival on Sunday night to free up their congregation on Halloween.

4. My sister and her family have started leaving a bowl of candy on their front porch so no one has to stay home. We get to wander their neighborhood as a family connecting with neighbors and fellow Trick-or-Treaters. (And this year for the first time ever Del, Elizabeth and I have a themed costume we’ll do together! Can’t wait!)

Engagement can come in many forms, be creative. Find one that works for you, your stage of life, your family and your personality.

I’d love to hear more ideas of ways you have found to engage and connect with folks. Anyone else planning a costume for this year?

P.S. My time in Beijing was profound on multiple levels. I’m sifting through and will share more.

What We Know Can Lead to What We Are Known For

This post first appeared on Velvet Ashes with the weekly theme Known.  We explored what it means to be known. To be known by a culture not our own. To be known by teammates. To be known by friends and family. To be known by ourselves. To be known by God.

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A few hours after this is published I’ll be heading to the airport, boarding a plane and flying back to America. It is hard/easy to leave. Hard well, because a part of me will always be here and some of my people will always live here and now I don’t. Easy in the sense my friend is doing well in her recovery and yesterday took a huge turn for the good and doesn’t need me the way she has, so we both know the time is right for me to leave. Thanks for your prayers and interest.
what we are known for

In preparation for this post I’ve been thinking about the relationship between the words “known” and “know” (Geek alert, sorry). How does what we know influence what we become known for? How does what we know influence the ways we are known by others and ourselves?

As I waited to meet with a young woman I mentor, I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down people we are familiar with and what they knew. 

  • What did Joseph know? He knew he had been falsely accused.
  • What did Joshua know? He knew God was bigger than the giants in front of him. He knew it even when others didn’t.
  • What did Hannah know? She knew the ache of infertility runs deep.
  • What did Mary know was true about herself? She was a virgin, she had been loyal to her fiancé and her word, and she was the servant of God. She knew this even when it was hard for others to know it.
  • What did Moses know? He knew fear when he heard the call. He knew he needed help.
  • What did Ezekiel know? He knew that cooking over human feces was not something he was comfortable with and talked with God about it.
  • What did Esther know? She knew there may be a cost (she might die) and she was wiling to pay it.
  • What did Daniel know? He knew that some cultural rules are not to be followed.
  • What did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know? They knew, “Come what may, we will trust the Lord.”
  • What did Jesus know? To enjoy time with friends.
  • What did Paul know? He knew the truths of the gospel are had to fully grasp at both an individual and community level.
  • What did Lydia know? She knew how to be a successful business woman.
  • What did Peter know? He knew he needed to be willing to change with the leading of the Lord and what had been unclean was now clean.
  • What did Sarah know? She knew the joy of holding the longing she never thought would be fulfilled.
  • What did Jeremiah know? He knew to weep for the sis of the people.
  • What did Hosea know? He knew to risk relationship even when others may not understand.
  • What did Mary know later in life? She knew the pain of watching a loved one suffer.

I know (wink!) this is not an exhaustive list and many of these folks knew and were known for more than this one attribute. What stands out to me as I read over this list and let it soak into me a bit is the relationship between what they knew and what they were known for.  

Which leads me to ask myself, what do I know? And what am I known for? Limiting myself to three :

  1. I know life is messy and large enough to hold complexities. I am known for walking into messes with people (they don’t scare me) and looking for ways God can work.
  2. I know that appropriate laughter lightens the road. I’m known for being a bit zany and up for a good time.
  3. The older I get the more I know this one: I know relationships matter and are necessary. I’m known for finding ways to connect people to each other, history, ideas, and God.

If someone were to ask you what do you know and how does that influence what you are known for, how would you answer?

P.S. The depth and variety reflected in the Word is stunning, is it not?

Photo Credit: Silvestri Matteo via Unsplash

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