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Hallelujah on Halloween

November 2012

A lot of churches around here have taken to celebrating “Hallelujah” night in the place of Halloween. Last year, we visited a variety of different locations.  One church in town celebrates an annual “Trunk or Treat.” Other churches open up their facilities to carnival attractions for kids.  Blow up slides and bounce houses are spread out across their lawns.  Beside the row of bounce houses, there are often little activity stands with different varieties of bean bag tossing or hammer throwing or face painting.  Some churches boast of small petting zoos with the appropriate number of hungry lambs, baby goats, bunnies and chickens to entice a good number of young participants willing to feed them. Last year, we even went to the mall.  The kids got free tokens at Chuckie Cheese for being dressed up in their costumes and some of the other stories were giving out candy as well.

However, this year, Halloween fell on a Wednesday.  Jared and Luke are members of a local Awana club that meets on Wednesday nights at a Baptist church in Clute.  This particular Awana gathering was designated “Hallelujah Night” and the special event of the night was the costume contest to take place after ‘group and verse time.’ Each club member had a chance to dress up as a person, character or animal from the Bible and would need to explain who they were and why they were important in the Bible.  So, we didn’t have a lot of time to try to visit many other church events before our scheduled weekly trip to Awana at 7pm.  We did make it to one “Hallelujah fest” at the Baptist church close to the school.  We stayed for about thirty minutes before we pried our kids away from the festivities to get to Awana on time.

(Jared, Luke and Grace pose with a couple friends)

Last year, Jared was the only one in our family attending Awana.  He had dressed up as Sampson and had won second place in his Cubbies group.  This year, I had purchased a little Abraham outfit for Jared and put together a costume for Luke to play the role of “the little boy who shared his lunch with Jesus.”  For weeks we practiced going over the story of how Jesus needed to feed 5,000 people and a little boy shared his lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish so that everyone could eat.  Then Jesus turned his lunch into a “miracle meal” and there were 12 baskets of left overs when they were done.

I kept Jared busy memorizing six main points about who Abraham was in the Bible.  One main point was a Bible verse that he had memorized, which was Romans 4:3 and states, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. (NIV)”

When it came time to stand before the judges, the boys were able to recite all the information they had learned about their Bible characters.  Luke got a second place prize for his Cubbies group, which included two free movie tickets and “Awana bucks” to be spent at the Awana store in the near future.  Jared got first place in his Sparks group, which I consider even more impressive because it includes kids in kindergarten, first and second grades. He also won free movie tickets and “Awana bucks.”  Both boys were proud of their accomplishments and I was proud of them.  I can’t think of any other way I would rather spend Halloween night.

Oh, and Happy Reformation Day to those who celebrate this alternative on October 31st.  I think Martin Luther would have been proud of my boys, too.

Halloween Alternatives

My childhood is devoid of Halloween. I never had a Halloween costume and never went trick or treating.  It really wasn’t that hard to avoid.  I was growing up in South America as the daughter of missionary parents trying to spread the love of Jesus to everyone they knew.  Celebrating a host of ghost, goblins and other evil-spirited creatures did not work well with the message of God’s love for humanity.  None of my friends participated in Halloween and the community that my parents worked with didn’t celebrate it, either.

I don’t ever think I felt deprived of the holiday.  After all, we got to dress up for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Every year at Thanksgiving time, I would switch back and forth between being a Pilgrim or an Indian (sorry, I didn’t call them Native Americans back then.  We had not yet reached the political correctness we have now). For Christmas, we were always involved in some kind of Christmas play and most of the time I was given the role of Mary.  We also got so much candy for Christmas, I could hardly say I missed the treats of late October.

However, here I am in Lake Jackson, Texas, where I see lawns as decorated for Halloween as they are for Christmas.  Huge blown up pumpkins, ghosts and scarecrows invite trick or treaters to knock on their doors. I wasn’t sure how I felt about having my children participate.  I never felt the need to be a part of Halloween and we didn’t really have that tradition living in Quito, Ecaudor for the past three years.

The event that changed my mind was an announcement letter from Jared’s Awana group.  They were planning on having a special “Hallelujah” night and costume contest.  The catch was that all participants had to dress up as a Bible character and then be able to explain what was important about that character.  Being that I’m not a very artistic person and hardly excel at needlepoint, I knew I would have to find an already made costume that would fit Jared. Thankfully, an on-line Christian bookstore had just what I needed and Jared got fascinated with the modern-day version of a Samson costume.  While I was at it, I went ahead and got a Bob the Tomato costume for Luke, so he wouldn’t feel left out. And then I couldn’t resist buying a cute little bunny outfit for Grace.

So, yes, we did give in somewhat to the Halloween craze here.  The kids wore their costumes to Awana, library story time, a couple church Harvest festivals, Sears portrait studio, and finally at Chuckie Cheese’s where each kid got 10 free tokens for wearing their costume on Halloween. We even got home in time to hand out candy to one family still driving their kids around the neighborhood past 8pm on Halloween.

This was my Halloween alternative.  Find as many different events in the week before Halloween so that the kids get to wear their costume as much as possible.  By the time Halloween gets here, they are so tired of their costumes, they are glad not to wear them anymore. Well, I’m not sure if that worked so much for my kids, but it sure worked for me.

Halloween Pics:

Grace dressed up for library story time

Luke makes a mask at the library.

Jared at the libary in costume and the mask he made.