I watched a relatively new phenomena happen yesterday.
Halloween was being enacted in my suburban street. Migrants have bought knew ideas into Australia with each wave, so we have wonderful coffee, great afternoon teas, food from every nation readily available, as well as ideas and attitudes. But we are now experiencing Halloween, bought here by social media.
I noticed houses with decorations pop up on Wednesday morning as I drove to church for our usual Wednesday morning service.
Then about school finishing time I found groups of dressed up or partially dressed up school children, heading in and out of the houses.
Now our house was no exemption, and in fact we have been living this “tradition” since my eldest daughter asked for a Halloween Party when she was 9, egged on by her friends fuelled high on television. Yes she was born on the 31st of October, a date that had absolutely no relevance to me at the time, except as her birthday.
But 2 years ago, my youngest daughter noticed that there was a couple of kids, knocking at the door, and decided to leave out a bowl of lollies with a note asking them to help themselves, but leave some for others. Last year very little was taken.
This year, we replenished the bowl. Foot traffic was noticeable. Groups of children would creep in and I overheard wonderful conversations, “How many should we take?”, that group chose 2 lollies each. Another group yelled “Thank You” as they left.
At dinner our family spoke about this new phenomenon, and I queried if as a Christian family we should engage in this practice. To which I was informed that it started as a community/neighbourhood meal where the village would gather before All saints day. It was, they said, about community and wasn’t that what faith is about?
As more and more people live secularly, it is interesting that we continue to look for community activities. What does the church have to offer our community? How do we outreach to a community that have rejected the need for faith in their lives. We offer playgroups, we rent out our spaces, we have soup kitchens or coffee shops. We stand along our neighbours, and encourage friendships, help, compassion etc. We live out our faith, sometimes that means questioning new practices and sometimes it means embracing them.