Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion October 31, 2018

It is Halloween!!  So when I looked at the date on my calendar when I sat down at my desk this morning - cause I always look at my calendar first thing when I sit down at the desk because I have realized I am getting to that place where I don’t always remember everything….
In fact I have found out now that if I have to do something that is out of my routine I have to write it on my calendar on my desk and on the calendar in my kitchen and on the calendar on my phone and maybe even put it in that little reminder feature on my phone when will beep at me and remind me of something I need to do…. such a sad commentary that the old noggin just doesn’t retain what it use to.  I prefer to think of it as being because I have so many things I need to keep track of with work and family and outside obligations that there is just too much data and it is sort of like when my phone tells me the storage is all used up!
So this morning I did as I usually do and when I sat down at my desk I looked at my calendar and remembered it was Halloween!
I always have enjoyed Halloween.  Back when the kids were small and they would begin thinking of what they wanted to be for Halloween and I was a stay at home Mom and had time to hand make these great elaborate costumes.  Then it would be the search for not too expensive candy because we would have around 300+ kids come by the door.  What fun it was wandering around the neighborhood seeing all the other little children in their costumes and all excited about the candy they were going to receive cause there isn’t much little kids like better than mounds of candy (not sure parents would agree with that but you know this really is a night for kids to just have fun). 
Over the years we have lived in a couple different neighborhoods that had oodles and oodles of trick-or-treaters wandering the streets and many of those years the sainted husband would come up with some great Halloween scenario to portray in front of our house including boiling cauldrons and eerie music.  There was that year where he went a little overboard and the little kids were too afraid to come up to the porch to get the candy…… Course we had lots of left over candy that year and now I’m thinking maybe that was his plan. Hmmmm?
In one of our neighborhoods the houses on our street were really close together.  It was an old neighborhood with the narrow tall two story (or more) houses with front steps that led down to a sidewalk.  The years we lived there everyone one in their houses would come out and sit at the bottom of their steps to hand out the candy because it was quite a journey up most of our steps to get to the porch or the front door so we all made it easier on the throngs of children which traveled through that street…. but what was nice was this was the only time we as neighbors took the time to come to the front of our houses cause we all had fenced in back yards with parking in the back.  Out there we would go and sit and as the kids meandered through filling their sacks and pumpkins and pillow cases with our candy, we neighbors actually talked to one another!  It was such a nice enjoyable time.
I have to admit for me the most bizarre halloween candy collecting location I lived in was in a very, very rural area where there really weren’t that many people and the houses were scattered out along back roads.  When we moved there and October began to approach I did inquire as to how we would trick or treat.  And the locals looked at like because they had always lived there and they didn’t know there were options for trick or treating such as walking along sidewalks.  Halloween there consisted of dressing up in your costume and driving down the road, pulling off, running up to a house, collecting goodies, running back to the car and driving to the next driveway where you would often have to wait for the car in front of you to back out of the driveway before you pulled into the driveway where your children would climb out of the car, run up to the house, have items plunked into their pumpkin and back to the car, climb back in, seatbelts on, drive down the road, pull into a driveway, take off the seatbelts, jump out of the car - you got the picture!  
When I first moved where I am now and October approached I asked about how we did Trick or Treat?  I don’t have any children any more to dress up which is sad, but I was curious as to how to expect children to come ambling by my door expecting treats. There were no sidewalks and no real neighborhood and somehow I didn't think people drove around like they did when I lived out in the country.  Turns out the children go to the mall and the various trunk or treat locations and to down towns where the business treat and the number of children who actually come to your door are probably non-existent.  Sad face cause I really enjoyed smiling faces lifting up their halloween bag looking for something scrumptious dropped into the bag.
Aren’t traditions interesting?  So many different places and so many different ways of doing things and so many different understandings of how things are done and who does them and how they get done.  And sometimes people are interested in hearing about other traditions and sometimes people don’t understand that there are other traditions and ways of doing things and some people are flexible to ‘go with the flo’ and others are ‘my way or the highway’.  Just like all those different places I have lived during Halloween and too often just like our churches.
There are many, many different churches.  There are many, many different types of churches.  There are many, many different sizes of churches.  There are many, many different ways people worship.  There are many, many different ways people understand  worship.  There are many, many different times people worship.  There are many, many different songs people sing during worship.  There are quiet churches and loud churches and in the middle churches.  We could go on.  There many, many churches and no two churches are alike and no two churches do everything exactly alike.
And just like Halloween traditions, most of what we do in church is as much tradition as anything else.  And we need to remember that the importance of church is to gather and worship and serve our God and as long as we are doing that all these differences in tradition are just that….. traditions; ways we have done things for years because it works for us and it is comfortable and the objective is achieved - we worship and serve God.
So worship and serve God!  Become part of a church.  And don’t worry so much about the how, but concentrate on the why, which is to honor a God who loves us and showers us with his grace….