The bowl of candy at the front door is now empty. Our children have crashed in a sugar-hazed, twitchy kind of sleep. Another Halloween has come and gone and I miss it already. Would it surprise you to know that this has always been a favourite holiday of mine? I know … Lutheran pastor … October 31st … perhaps I am missing the mark … forgetting something … But I don’t think so.
Trick or treat. Think about it …it’s the only sanctioned (and generally encouraged) form of extortion I know. Strangers appearing on your doorstep with a thinly veiled ultimatum. “Nice place you’ve got here – what’s it worth to ya?” Trick or treat. Take your pick. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. And the candy fills bag after bag. I love it … such a wonderful snapshot of our existence.
At least it is for mine. Growing up I loved dressing up for Halloween. You name it, I wore the costume … a tramp, a hobo, a bum, a vagabond. Just tie a pillow case to a stick and out you go. Self-esteem issues? Naw, I just liked that I didn’t have to bathe for a few days before I went out, and I usually didn’t even have to change clothes. (My poor mother!) But that’s the Halloween snapshot. We show up at the door wretched and squalid with tricks in our heart and bag in hand – and we come away tasting the sweetness of life.
But not just any door mind you … God’s door. We show up at the gates of heaven wretched and squalid with wicked tricks in our heart and empty sack in hand – and we come away tasting the sweetness of forgiveness, life and salvation. Isn’t that at the heart of the reformation? The incredible richness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can’t demand it, we dare not try to extort it. To think such things will lead to a scary trick all right … but one you don’t want to be on the receiving end of!
Unworthy, unlovable, unwashed sinners, granted all the joys of heaven through Grace alone, by faith in Christ alone. God sees through the masks we put on, through all the bluster we spout and treats us anyway. And the treats just keep flowing, filling day after day after day. No matter what I look like when I come to His door, He is always there to fill my life with his gifts. And that’s no trick!