My four-month-old daughter, Zuzu, was only weeks old when I began planning her first Halloween costume.
A cute, cuddly monster? The protagonist from a favorite children’s book? I went through all of the most adorable options until someone sent me an advertisement for a Halloween party at a dog park. Then it was settled.
A different message
When I was growing up, the Baptist and non-denominational churches I attended frowned upon Halloween. My sister and I were allowed to trick-or-treat and carve pumpkins at home, but at church, we celebrated harvest festivals and fall cake walks. Costumes were encouraged, but witches and ghosts needed not apply.
While I know Zuzu won’t remember this first Halloween, I still want the message in our house to be different than the one I heard from preachers and Sunday school teachers when I was young.
[bctt tweet=”God is so much bigger than any holiday or tradition anyone on earth can create.” username=”womenoftheelca”]
While I can understand why some Christians might want to avoid associating with Halloween, I want Zuzu to know God is so much bigger than any holiday or tradition anyone on earth can create—that the God of Christmas and Easter is also the God of Halloween, a God who, like our family this year, ain’t afraid of no ghost.
Halloween and Reformation Day
It seems fitting, then, that Halloween and Reformation Day share a spot on the calendar—and that Zuzu’s first Halloween will also be the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
In fact, I think it’s reminiscent of the same kind of paradox that led Martin Luther to (allegedly) nail his theses to the door!
[bctt tweet=”Just like the world, the church can sometimes be a scary place.” username=”womenoftheelca”]
Just like the world, the church can sometimes be a scary place. Sometimes we sell indulgences; sometimes we dare to challenge the powers that sell them. Sometimes we give shelter to Dreamers and refugees; sometimes we (yes, we) burn crosses on lawns.
Sometimes people (Christians and Lutherans included) do terrible, horrifying things, and sometimes we stand up to those who do them.
God is bigger than ghosts or monsters
My hope for Zuzu is that she’ll learn that while scary things can and do happen, our God is so much bigger than any of the ghosts or monsters among us.
I hope she’ll learn that our God calls us to act—like Luther—to confront the monsters in the church and the world.
And I hope she’ll learn that our God thinks it’s OK to have a little fun—and some candy—while we’re doing it.
Sarah Carson is associate editor of Gather magazine.