Just as churches find ways to honor the Christ Child in an increasingly secular Holiday Season, I believe we can communicate the Gospel at Halloween in a playful and prayerful way. Taken at face value, Halloween is great fun. In my own mind, it’s a chance for a wee bit of controlled mayhem and spookiness that helps to inoculate us against being total scaredy cats. Also, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on key elements of the human condition: death and dying, grief and loss, in a way that doesn’t involve costly emotions (and goodness knows, we’ve more than “paid the price” over these last eighteen months dominated by costly emotions).

During difficult times, it’s great to have fun family traditions to lean into, fortify us, and provide some levity. At church, there is the longstanding tradition of youth members sending Halloween Care packages to college-age members, as a way of saying, “Your church family and friends are thinking about you and hope you’re doing well.” This year, I was heartened by a thank- you text sent to Sarah LeBuhn by Emma Sylves-Berry, who wrote, “Thank you, St. Barnabas, for the yummy treats 🙂 featuring the stray kittens who hang out on our back porch. So fast! Thanks for mailing Sarah!” Emma’s response certainly put the “Happy” into Halloween; and reminded me of how Christian love is conveyed through simple acts of kindness which, in turn, may bridge the distance when loved ones move away. 

This Sunday, our youngest members will fully embrace Halloween, as they attend church school in their Halloween costumes. Normally, they gather in the afternoon; but, this Sunday, they will gather in the morning at 10:00AM, so they can take part in Halloween activities in their respective towns and villages later in the day. As is my usual pandemic practice, I will take Holy Communion to them outside, where they meet under the Chestnut tree. As I enter the Godly Play circle, I always ask, “Who would like to receive Holy Bread?” to which the collective response is, “Me!” This Sunday, I will give Communion to Ninjas, monsters, superheroes, witches, and maybe even a scary-looking dinosaur. Play and prayer will come together on the Feast of All Hallows Eve, as Christ is remembered and embodied by all those who gather at St. Barnabas.

Onward in Faith,