Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

 Trick or Treat, or Halloween, as the calendar so names it, arrives.  As a kid, I remember this night well.  Adorned in clever costumes, hand-stitched and/or constructed by my parents, school fun, and safe neighborhood walk-abouts, I looked forward to this night. The candy stayed in a bowl on top of the fridge and only with permission could my sister and I dip into it after dinner.  I always loved the Hershey Bars—the big ones, the best. 

As a Girl Scout Leader, my mother planned a spectacular party in our garage for our troop one year.  Hay bales lined the floor, spooky music played on a portable record player while dry ice fogged up the gathering.  My mother read a scary story as we passed around props under a blanket on our laps.  Giggly 11 -year old girls touching and passing “peeled grape eye-balls” and “cold sticky spaghetti brains” of a mad scientist’s experiment gone bad creeps back into my memory. 

Movies like “Psycho” and “Wait Until Dark” with Audrey Hepburn, bring back  more memories of a time in celluloid when your imagination scared you more than the images you did not see on the screen.  Jumping high and screaming loud left you cracking up in embarrassment but wondering if your heartbeat would ever be normal again. 

In high school, I belonged to a well-known Christian organization called Youth for Christ/Campus Life.  ”The Haunted House” secured funds to run clubs on many high school campuses and support staff for many months. We located an actual abandoned building or house and with city permission, transformed it into a maze of rooms of gore with strobe lights and monsters of the night scaring the “you know what” out of every brave soul who dared to wander down the dark halls anticipating what each new room might reveal, if they could even see around any corner.  Joining the staff myself in college, this event gained me the notoriety as “Monster of the Year,” at our staff after party.  Playing a witch in a graveyard, I welcomed you to my “garden” of  past visitors who somehow didn't quiet make it visitors who somehow didn’t quite make it home. 

Eventually, the Haunted House became controversial among some supporters of YFC and alternative methods of fundraising became apparent. I can tell you that those days remain as great memories of hard-working young people “performing” on a 6-night a week, three week project, impacting many surrounding cities and its youth.  A very rewarding time in my life, the Haunted House brought many people to the Campus Life clubs where they heard about a God who is personal and wanted to come into their hearts to calm their fears and give them eternal life. 

As a parent, again, Halloween became an opportunity for creativity and family-fun. Active in my children’s classrooms, I took treats, sharing with other mothers and visited the neighbor’s homes for compliments and pictures of the kids in their costumes while candy plopped in their open bags. Quickly, we hopped in the car to trek over to the small campus of our little church, Chino Valley Community and “Harvest Night.”  Oh what fun pitching the baseball to “dunk” our youth pastor while eating chili dogs and popcorn as the children and adults in costumes as well, played the “carnival games” over and over for the handful of candy. 

This month, we begin a Season of Celebration among friends. Do we include a holiday that promotes blood and guts, screaming and terror, sugar surges and smashed pumpkins?  What can we celebrate?  Let’s not focus on the negative stuff, but let’s celebrate a candle inside a pumpkin as the light of Jesus inside our hearts. Let’s celebrate His sweet loved wrapped just for us in a candy kiss.  The Lord helps us to remove our “masks” of pride and secrecy, becoming transparent as a ghost.  He heals our scars by his precious blood and gives us a firm foundation that our bones can stand strong on.  Take the opportunity to get to know your neighbors by sharing some apple cider or homemade caramel corn, (three colors in one –bite!). God gives us reason to celebrate everyday as we put forth the empty pillowcases of our lives and he fills it with His goodness, even a day the devil wants to claim as his. As Christ followers, let your light shine in the darkness of hearts. Oh what a day to meet the Savior ringing the doorbell of your heart! 

Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.