Halloween: Treats more than tricks

Published 9:31 am Friday, October 31, 2014

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Mark Boorsma

As a child, my least imaginative Halloween costume ever was an old sheet, under which I passed for a — lame, I know — ghost.

Mark Boorsma

Mark Boorsma

Enticed by candy handed out by generous neighbors, I came to love this strange holiday that sanctioned door-to-door begging one special night each year. The candy kept me interested long enough to learn the deeper roots of Halloween: abiding reverence for the dead.

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Everything I’ve learned about Halloween and its parallels in the world’s cultures (O-Bon in Japan, Dia de Muertos in Mexico or Celtic Samhain) connects with attention to the ancestors and all who have lived and died before us.

I know that some of my fellow Christians have grave concerns about Halloween, seeing devilish traits in it. But since Christian belief displaced or discouraged prior festivals of the dead, might it be that much of the fault for demonizing and distorting this day falls back upon Christians?

So I’ll leave criticism of Halloween to others, and share instead what is wholesome about this feast.

I love that on this night, the children of your neighborhood feel safe to approach their neighbors’ doors anticipating a treat. Such evokes a more innocent past, when neighbors without malice sat on porches or front steps and extended friendly greetings to all who passed.

I love that children have the opportunity to practice gratitude, coached from an early age to say “thank you” when a kind neighbor has handed them a treat.

I love that our elders, even on fixed incomes, take the time, trouble and expense to have some treats on hand for the little goblins that come knocking.

May this All Hallows Eve remind us: saints of every age still come knocking. While it might be tempting to put out all the lights and pretend not to be home, what if instead we listened eagerly for the doorbell or the knock as though heaven itself came to call?

And while trick-or-treaters wind their way through the dark, let us give thanks for the countless ancestors whose hopes, dreams and DNA you and I carry forward, whether clothed in denim, silk or an old sheet.


Mark Boorsma is the pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church in Albert Lea.