I’m not one to sign a petition. I’m way too overly critical to flippantly pen my signature to a document. Wow, after reading that last line, I realize I have issues. Sheesh.
Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting to be approached for my signature while riding my bike home from the park with my youngest daughter. It kind of caught me off guard. Not in a bad way. It literally caught me in a moment when my guard was down. So, I signed.
It was a neighbor seeking signatures from homeowners on our street. The reason for asking is Hallloween. She is seeking permission from each family on Jonila Avenue to close the street for ‘Trick or Treat.’
Word is that our neighborhood is a magnet for trick or treaters. I guess carloads of kids and families flood our streets every year. Not sure if it’s geographical convenience or what, but we live in a halloween hotspot.
I’m kind of nervous. We have never lived on a street with high trick or treat traffic before. I’m not sure whether to expect tens, hundreds, or thousands. Plus, my neighbors’ story freaks me out. One year, they ran out of candy and turned off the porch light. No light, evidently, indicates the storehouse is closed. Nearly 3 hours after trick or treat began, one group of trick or treaters didn’t receive the message. They knocked on our neighbor’s door. No answer. They then proceeded around the house, through the gated back yard, where they looked in the window to find our neighbors seated in their bed clothes (aka, not appropriate attire for strangers to see you in).
Our family will be trying this thing out this year. We bought loads of candy. Invited friends over early enough to avoid the blockade. Emotionally hyped our daughters for a fun night. We’re doing this thing.
Here’s the deal. I’m not sure I’m ready to open my door to everyone. It’s not a regular practice of mine. I’m used to my own privacy. I’m not so inclined to welcome strangers and people I don’t know. I am much more comfortable sharing my home with a small group of people who are friends. I don’t go throwing around hospitality to just anyone.
For Trick or Treat, I will. I open my door to strangers and share a gift with them.
A distinguishing mark for the early Church was its hospitality to needy strangers. It was a central practice for Christians. By the 1700s, it disappeared as a significant moral exercise. Ever since, it has been left to be rediscovered.
Christine Pohl writes, “Hospitality involves some space into which people are welcomed, a place where unless the invitation is given, the stranger would not feel free to enter.” She adds, “The distinctive Christian contribution was the emphasis on including the poor and the neediest, the ones who could not return the favor.”
If ever so subtly, Trick or Treat begs the Church to re-commit to greater hospitality. Open the doors to our homes and lives to those around us. Regularly connect with persons in need of a secure place in the world. Risk the uncomfortable and awkward. Extend to strangers a quality of kindness normally reserved for a select few. Let your hospitality reveal and reflect the power of God’s love in your life.
You have a gift much greater than candy to share. You don’t have to wait to give it once a year. It doesn’t require a special holiday. Every day is an opportunity to practice.