This special case is Halloween. I realize the mere mention of this fall celebration may send tingling sensations down the middle of your spine. Why would a Church even acknowledge this pagan holiday? I mean, it celebrates evil spirits and promotes poor health among our youth. There is no good reason, right?
Well, I will not try to convince you of the goodness of Halloween. I won’t attempt an explanation of how Christian’s can reclaim it by understanding and celebrating “All Saint’s Day.” I don’t want you to feel any pressure to wear a mask or dress up or participate in an event that might feel is sacrilegious.
I only want to share with you one reason I have found to deviate from the general rule that “you should take off your mask when you come to church.” I lead our church’s (Highland Park Church) Saturday evening worship service. It starts at 6pm. We meet every weekend, including all holidays. Worshipping together as a group is a core value of our faith community. It is a major part of our identity.
This weekend is Halloween. Saturday is officially Halloween. It is October 31, which means Trick or Treat will be happening at the same time as Saturday Night Church. Kids will don their costumes, walk the neighborhoods, and go door to door before, during, and after the time we start our worship service at 6pm. It’s one of my kids’ favorite times of the year.
I expect many families will be missing from our seats tomorrow night. What can I do as a pastor? Should I make everyone feel guilty? I can’t cancel church. Should I let it bother me that people will choose Trick or Treat over church? Maybe I should have embraced it and thrown a huge halloween party, but church style. What do we call those? Oh yeah, Fall festivals.
Here’s what I’ve decided. I will have fun. I will allow this moment to let people see the normal, human, and silly side of me. After dancing on stage in hammer pants, I decided I wouldn’t embarrass myself again. I’ve rethought it, and I am willing to look stupid at least one more time. Why? I want the people I lead to know I am just like you. Most people only see the serious preacher side of me. I want you to see more of me. The part of me that likes to have fun and isn’t perfect.
So, I have decided to wear a mask to church tomorrow. Wish I could tell you what it is, but that would spoil the surprise.
It is not a celebration of Halloween. I am not corroborating with the spirit’s of a pagan holiday. I am taking advantage of one Saturday Night that will only happen every so many years. My goal is to share a laugh with you. To pretend like a kid again for just a moment. And, to embrace my common humanity with your own that needs more occasions to smile at ourselves.
My only prayer is that I don’t make as big a fool of myself as I did with my attempt to dance MC Hammer style. If I do, I hope you will still love me.