traditions following Gods will

So the tradition of celebrating Halloween is in a couple of weeks and it’s one of favorite holidays.  Growing up in Northern NJ, the weather would be cool and the autumn season would be in full swing. The crisp breezes would cause the changing leaves to pile along the ground and large black hefty bags full of them would line the streets on trash days. My favorite holiday TV program is “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. I love the part where Charlie Brown wants to dress up as a ghost, but claims “I had a little trouble with the scissors”. I had a similar experience in 6th grade. I also had a little trouble with the scissors. My ghost costume was so bad and impossible to see out of, I had to wear a football helmet with it. It was embarrassing… Most of the families in my hometown participated in Halloween and it was one of the times my parents would let me do things without a curfew. Forget filling plastic pumpkins with trick-or-treat candy. If I didn’t collect 2 or 3 pillowcases full of goodies, it was a disappointment. I do remember one infamous dental appointment with 16 cavities. Anyway, my friends and I would go in large groups and venture far and away until we exhausted all treat resources. Sometimes we were mean to other trick-or-treaters or to some of the homes not participating. Just as fun to us was Halloween Eve back then. Some called it Mischief Night or Goosey Night. It doesn’t seem to be something I’ve heard about years later, but it was “a thing” in the 70’s at least. Mischief Night included egging houses or wrapping toilet paper around cars or other “innocent” pranks. One of these times, my friend Chris (who had the nickname Bubbles for some reason) convinced me to take a bunch of those black bags full of leaves and place them across Brooklyn Mountain Road, a famous winding dark street in Hopatcong. We ran into the bushes and watched as frightened drivers skidded into the bags, then we ran away. Fortunately no one was seriously injured. A few years later I heard of a similar prank a few towns away where several people died. Those teenagers were convicted of manslaughter and went to prison. It still haunts me, that this could’ve been my fate also. I’m glad this isn’t one of the traditions popular today. 

John Brush spoke during our communion from Phil 3:10-12 about remembering why we even participate in the tradition of taking communion. He shared that we need to put off all the distractions and really focus on Jesus’ suffering, and understanding. We need to deny ourselves in following his example so we can imitate him.    

Chase Deneaux gave the sermon today with Tony away. His theme was “What has you caged?”, Chase used the scripture in 1 Sam 14:3-1 and shared about (King Saul’s son) Jonathan’s trust in God and how this prince, with his armor-bearer, attacked the Philistines by themselves and triumphed. When you trust someone’s faith in God, it’s easy to be with them heart and soul, even when the odds look insurmountable. Traditionally. the Philistines taunted and poked at the “Lion” of God, thinking the lion was in the cage, like as usual. Satan wants our traditional cage to remain and not escape to be what lions are meant to do. Then, when other lions see another lion attacking something, they instinctively join the attack. Chase left us with a challenge to leave our traditional cages and make a faithful act.    

This past week I’ve shared in my 5th grade class and in my community group about traditions and how Jesus felt about them superseding the heart. Traditions are great as long as they are consistent with God’s will. For instance, participating in Halloween celebrations by being evil would be unacceptable to Jesus (like my younger years in NJ), but I think getting your family group together and going trick-or-treating together would be something Jesus would encourage.    

Have a great week !!!