Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Participated in a Pagan Ritual!

Last night the pagans came out to play. And our family participated fully.

My wife, who is the Martha Stewart of the progressive, hippie, feminist set, carved a pumpkin with a beatific smile radiating from the environmentally friendly candle. She placed the pumpkin lovingly beside the “pumpkin people” – a grandpa with a baby in his arms she made out of old clothes filled with newspaper– who sat smiling at the trick-or-treaters who stopped by for candy.

I took my kids out, door-to-door, trick-or-treating. My oldest – four years old – was a mouse. My youngest – 22 months – was a can of Tomato Soup.

They had a blast and collected more candy than can be eaten without an insulin overload.

But there were some Christians who decided that my daughters, by dressing up and collecting candy, were – somehow - glorifying Satan. These churches had their own alternative celebrations.

Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. The Witch’s Sabbath. Satan is rubbing his (her?) hands with glee. Think of it. Candy. Costumes. Community. What else can bring down western civilization, or send the WORLD into everlasting fire, than a 4-year-old gorging on Mars Bars and lollipops while dressed up as a mouse?

I wonder if these same folks have Christmas trees in their houses in December. Last time I checked, the Christmas tree has its roots in paganism.

It occasionally occurs to me that folks who get their shorts in a bunch over Halloween miss the larger picture. Where are the tears of sorrow over genocide in Sudan? Where is the weeping over the suicide rates on the Native reserves? Where is the outrage over the 30 000 children who died today of hunger and malnutrition related diseases?

It’s easier to confront Satan. A disembodied, almost abstract concept, rather than to jump in the fray of flesh-and-blood human tragedy.

I know my church could do a better job of engaging the pressing issues of humanity. But one thing I LOVE about my congregation is that these people aren’t hung up on non-essentials. There is a variety of political perspectives in our pews but one thing they can all agree on: they will not tolerate playing church. They know that faith is not a game. They know that faith has temporal AND eternal consequences.

They know that there’s too much pain, sorrow, brokenness in the world to be worried about whether or not my kids go out on Halloween.

They want the real deal. They want to make an ACTUAL difference in peoples’ lives and the world. They want to see the kingdom of God alive and active. They want to see the promise of the New Creation actualized before their eyes.

They want to see the lame walk, the dead raised, the blind see. They want to see good news preached to the poor.

So don’t bother them about this Halloween nonsense. They don’t want to hear it. Paint them a picture of what God is doing in the world. Show them lives being changed. Declare forgiveness of their sins and the sins of world.

Then, you’ll get their attention. And you’ll get mine.

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