Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

In South Africa, they don't really celebrate Halloween

If I were in the USA, I would spend most of today buzzing around and preparing for the evening. I would have a costume picked out by now, and would have at least considered wearing it to church. This afternoon I would make sure all the sweets were ready, and anticipated the arrival of children as they come “trick-or-treating” in the evening.

For me, Halloween is an incredible example of what it means to be in community. While most of the year may pass without seeing some of my neighbors and their families, on this day, a simple porch light left on in the front of the house would indicate that all are welcome. Children would come dressed as their favorite cartoon character or superhero, and parents would walk with them, enjoying one another’s company almost as much as the children enjoy an excuse to dress in costumes and eat sweets.

For this one night, no one thinks about anything but the children. For children and adults alike, bed times go out the window. No matter if you are 5 or 55 or 95 years old, everyone dresses up, at the very least with a smile across the face, and is reminded of the importance of their role in the community. Each porch light left on is another opportunity to say hello, share a sweet, and check in on one another.

In some ways, this big community event reminds me of the Fete we’ve just had. People come out from all over to greet and support one another and to play an important role in the ongoing life of the church. Costumes were optional, but in the end everyone gets to go home with a treat of sorts, whether from the Lucky Dip, the Food Shop, the Good As New stall or one in between. There’s something for everyone, even if more often than not that something ends up being “the one thing you never knew you always wanted.”

Its traditions like these - be it Halloween or Fetes or other shared traditions we have - that remind us of the importance of community and invite us to get to know one another better. In many ways, Sunday mornings (for Christians) are like these annual traditions of gathering and supporting one another as a community. Wherever you find yourself today, take time to look around. Who is this community that surrounds you? Have you greeted them? Surely there is someone you don’t know or haven’t talked to in a while: why wait for a holiday or special occasion to greet them?

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