Pre-cursor to last year's Hallowe'en Blog post + Why there is no October 31st event at the church this year.
Practices shape who we become. Traditions matter! What and how and with whom we celebrate makes a difference. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel grew deeper into their identity as the people of God as they told stories, established traditions, and repeated their celebrations. We see this in different religions today. We see this in different families today – cultures shape customs, and these traditions or practices shape our identity.
If you’ve been around for a couple of years, you might have noticed some of the growing traditions at Redemption Church. Whenever possible, we bless and send people who leave our church community when they leave Vancouver. We dedicate babies when families choose to commit themselves and their children to Jesus and ask for the support of the community in doing so. We share the Lord ’s Supper together on Sunday mornings and in our Oikos groups. We recognize the whole season of Advent that leads up to Christmas. Similarly, we slow down and prepare for Easter during the season of Lent. And we really like to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday – with baptisms and a gospel choir. These practices shape us as a people.
What and how we celebrate shapes who we are and who we are becoming.
Around this time last year, I wrote a blog about Hallowe’en. Hallowe’en is a cultural celebration that has become a norm and a fixture in North America. It has not always been the case. And churches and families within the church have chosen to respond in a variety of ways. Some have joined wholeheartedly in this cultural festivity, some have abstained from Hallowe’en altogether, and others have participated with a ‘missional’ or ‘redemptive’ view.
Traditionally, our church has hosted an evening event for children and families in the neighbourhood on October 31. The vision has been for it to be missional. Which I think it has been to an extent. But I’m not convinced to what extent. Having an event at the church has not allowed for space, time and opportunity for discernment and reflection among your friends and in your families. It’s easy for ‘coming to the church event’ to be the default position – for which I am grateful! But I am not convinced that it is necessarily the response that Jesus is inviting each of us to take.
So this year we will not be hosting an October 31 event at the church. Instead...decide if, when, and how to celebrate or not with your family. If you’re celebrating, then go into your community! Meet your neighbours. Hang out with other families from your children’s schools or home-school groups. Plan a party for your block. Be inspired by some of Karen Reed’s suggestions (you can check our her sermon from Thanksgiving Sunday here) and pull the bbq out to your front yard and make a bunch of hot dogs for trick-or-treaters. Or have a pot of apple cider to share with your neighbours. Maybe there’s another friend or family in your Oikos group that can team up with you. And start praying now that God would sow seeds. Or maybe this year you and your kids don’t do costumes at all. Read about another country that doesn’t celebrate Hallowe’en and learn about one of their annual festivals. Maybe you will dedicate that time to praying for people around the world who don’t celebrate the way that we do. Maybe you can plan another celebration for people in your neighbourhood who need a reason to celebrate. Do you know any elderly people who are going to be alone and might appreciate a visit from energetic children? Is there already something organized in your neighbourhood that you can join in with?
If you would like to think more deeply about this, please click the link below and read on!
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