Fall really has to get here. Eventually….I am sitting my office on this late September day when the anticipated high temperature is 90 degrees; reminding myself that fall has to eventually arrive. A few trees are starting to show signs of autumns tell-tale colors. The early mornings have a slight crisp edge to them. Fall really truly is going to show up.
The surest sign that fall is coming is the arrival of Halloween candy in stores. Countless retailers are gearing up for trick-or-treating, running big sales on those tiny candy bars we all love. Trick-or-treating is one of my favorite traditions. As a teen in Mississippi, it was always warm enough to sit on the porch with a sweater and hand out candy. It was one of the traditions I really missed when I lived in apartments. I love seeing a neighborhood come alive for one night. Seeing people talk to each other, give to each other, witnessing the celebratory spirit of trick-or-treating does my spirit good.
But I think trick-or-treating is more powerful than we realize. It is something beyond innocent fun for kids. It is practice for building the kingdom of God. I have come to believe trick-or-treating is one of the moments we can see the gospel come to life before our very eyes. I think of Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” On trick-or-treat night, anyone who asks, receives. On trick-or-treat night, we take a break from the quid pro quo idea of giving. On trick-or-treat night, we give things away expecting nothing in return. On trick-or-treat night we stop keeping score, we don’t ask if the receiver is worthy of getting candy, we don’t worry about getting credit for our gift. We just give to whoever asks. And in doing so, we bring the kingdom of God to life. Jesus constantly talks about giving stuff away, about expecting nothing in return, about not withholding any generosity. This month, as a wider culture we have a chance to practice that. As a church, we are called to live that all year long. So, may the trick-or-treat spirit stay with us past Halloween, because it seems like the trick-or-treat spirit just might be the Holy Spirit in disguise.