Christian Halloween Thoughts

I came across a bunch of my newsletters from when I was in Japan. Considering Halloween is fast approaching, I thought it timely to repost this – my thoughts on Halloween as a Christian. This was originally dated 10/29/08. Take it as you will.

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Some of you might not agree with what I am going to say in the following paragraphs, but I hope that you will at least read it with an open mind.  This Friday is Halloween.  People everywhere will be celebrating it, and Japan is as well (although they embrace it because it’s something American, and they don’t really do the trick-or-treating but they do have a lot of parties).  On Sunday, I helped out with a Halloween workshop for some kids near Yamaguchi City.  It was a lot of fun!  I really enjoyed helping them carve the pumpkins and playing the games.  We always celebrated Halloween when I was a kid, and I would even dress up when I was up to high school.  There’s just a fun atmosphere around the holiday.

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Now, I know a lot of people do not like to celebrate it because of its origins.  I completely understand, and if that was what Halloween was in these days as well, then I would not want anything to do with it.  But the truth is that it has changed.  For the majority of people who enjoy it, it is not about worshipping spirits and divination or kidnapping little children and boiling them in stew (although that makes a really good scary story).  It’s the one night of the year that people all over are willing to put down their guard a bit and actually meet their neighbors with their children.

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Some might say, “Well, it’s just not an important holiday for a Christian.  We have Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving…Those days are so much more important for us to celebrate, we can forget about Halloween and no one will hold to our discredit.”  But I want to ask you…do you know your neighbors?  You might know their last names from their mailbox, you know how many cars and kids they have, how late they keep their dog out at night, but do you know how their parents’ health is doing?  Are they struggling to keep their marriage together?  Did they just move here and have no connections with anyone except at their workplace?

I think God has given us a great opportunity.  Most people who are not Christians think that Christians are stodgy and cannot have any fun.  They see a Christian’s closed and darkened house on Halloween and think that they have no interest in the community.  I am sad that I can’t be home this year to hand out candy, to show my neighbors my face so that they can know that I am not some religious freak incapable of real human interaction.  Yes, we know that we are very social creatures, within the safety and protection of our church community, but are you willing to step outside of that and invite some less than savory (or so you think) people into your life…people who are not already following Christ?  There is a special blessing for someone who leads another to Christ.

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Oh, and by the way…I looooove how some churches do the “Trunk or Treat”.  It provides a nice, safe, environment for kids to get candy and play games.  Last year, Mom’s church did that, but we still sat at our home and handed out candy.  As the kids came by, we let them know that they should go over to the church to get a lot of candy.  It was a great way to get people over to the church and see Christians actually enjoying life and in a non-threatening setting.  Just throwing some ideas out there for you…and again, if you don’t agree with this, please don’t hate me.  We have different ideas of evangelism and different people are gifted for different things.  Some of you, I know, do not celebrate Halloween, but you also make it a point to know your neighbors and be involved in your community.  If that’s the case, then good for you!  But if you are a regular “church hermit” and don’t know anything about the people down the street from you, I would just suggest that you should find a way of doing so.  It is a command that Christ gave us – to love your neighbor as yourself.  Can you say you do that?  I know I sure don’t…but it’s something I am working on.

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The Huz and I will be passing out candy this year at The House. I’m super pumped for it! He said that we don’t get many kids down this street, but I am looking forward to it. We never had many kids at my mom’s, but it was worth seeing the kids and neighbors for a little bit. We are all so isolated in America! Ugh, it drives me nuts and yet I perpetuate it all the time.

Halloween costumes last year...Goldilocks and a bear.

Halloween costumes last year…Goldilocks and a bear.

What are you doing for the holiday? Handing out candy? Taking kids around? Doing something with your church for the community? I’d love to hear how you use the holiday to reach out to others.

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Newsletters

Shimonoseki Port

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve decided to post some of the newsletters I wrote while I was in Japan.  I’m doing this for a two-fold reason.  One, I have been asked by several people recently about my experiences in Japan and, frankly, my memory has become rather rose-colored and hazy.  I want to give a true account and what better way than to share what I wrote, often, the very week of things happening.  Two, I’m afraid that I may, at some point, lose those emails in my inbox.  I don’t want to lose that at all, so this will be a great way for me to keep the memories written down.  And, I guess, there’s a third reason:  I’ve been feeling stagnant and ungrateful to God.  I don’t want to feel this way…I need to be energized and sometimes the best way to do that is to go over what God has done in your past.  So, here you go…I’m not sure if they will come over on Facebook/Twitter much, but I will be posting them for the dates when they were sent out an under their own category, I believe I’ll use “Shimonoseki ’08” (since God may send me back at some point.  Always thinking ahead! lol)

I don’t have many who subscribe to this blog to their emails, so hopefully it won’t overwhelm anyone.  Enjoy!

Japanese Earthquake Mar ’11

It’s unreal to think of what has happened in the northeast Japan.  I never got that far north when I lived there, but I did go through Tokyo for a few days around Christmas/New Year’s.  The earthquake has devastated the northeast.  I spent most of my time in the west, so the areas I lived in and became familiar with didn’t even feel the tremors.  I can’t really even express what I’ve been feeling and thinking for the people of Japan.  It’s strange to think of their clean and organized cities being in disarray and disaster.

In church, we sang “Draw Me Close to You” by the Katinas.  I loved that song before going to Japan, but we also sang it there in Shimonoseki Christ Bible Church – in Japanese, of course.  Whenever I hear it, I feel a swell in my heart for the people in that congregation.  (I have the same thing happen with “Amazing Love” and some friends in CN.)

I can just imagine God, in heaven, drawing close to the people of Japan and waiting for them to come the rest of the way.  Less than 1% of the Japanese are Christians and many of them live in the East.  Please be in prayer for the people of Japan – that God would use this tragedy as an opportunity to draw them close to Him, to make them aware of who He is and what He can be for their life.  Before it’s too late.

Day 3 – Schedules and Expectations

Kelly’s Day 3 was about “To-Do Lists” and mine is about schedules. Plans.  Expectations.  As I reflected on the list of things causing me bitterness and why they do so, I found it was because they don’t fit my schedule.  God and I have fought many times on this before.  Or rather, I’ve fought and He’s patiently waited for me to fall in step with Him. 

I don’t always know it either.  I will feel anxious out of no where and I’m sure that on reflection, “schedule” would be at the heart of it.  There are some areas that I am not anxious about planning for.  I’ve let go of my expectations.  One such area is what field God calls me to work in.  I could really care less WHERE I go or what I’m doing when I get there.  What I am concerned about is WHEN.

Ok, so, as I’m thinking about it, the “WHERE” factor is pretty much the only area that I’m not concerned about.  And even my anxiety right now to get away is not so much because I feel it’s time for God to send me somewhere, but more that I just want to get away. 

But let’s throw all the rest aside.  When I was “picky” about where I would serve, if God called me somewhere else, I would fight Him tooth and nail.  God had to hit me upside the heard…in several ways…to get me to agree to go to one such place.  When Japan came up, thankfully, I learned from that mistake and was willing to go, even though I knew nothing about the country and had never had any, ANY desire to go there.  And it was one of the best experiences of my life.

But that trip brought up something I have struggled with before – my expectations of others.  Especially of other believers.  but I am a work in progress, why shouldn’t others be too?

My expectations of how members of the family should be or friends, or boyfriends…whatever “position” someone holds…it reflects an expectation you have for them. 

God is the only One who we can expect to be just like He is described in Scripture and for Him to be exactly like that.  Anyone else has free license to go against your expectations, whether for good or for bad.

So, I’m asking God (not man…) to help me release my faulty expectations and the schedules I make in my mind.  His ways are not my own and I can never expect Him to keep to my own desires and whims.  I can expect Him to be good, to love me, and to be sovereign over all.  And as the meaning of those things trickle down in to my mind, my expectations will fall into line with who He really is and who I really am.