Last weekend we hosted a Halloween experience. Of course we all know that Halloween is a tacky, sugar-soaked, commercialised, American-import festival of darkness.
But it is also the day of the year when Paddington has more families out on the streets than any other: meeting neighbours, engaging their imaginations with costumes and decorations, and sharing fun times together.
It is also the eve of All Saints Day, that part of the Christian liturgical calendar when we remember the dead, especially the great examples of faith, hope and love who have gone before us. It is a chance to consider our mortality, to remember that genuine evils exist, and to recommit ourselves to the path of the Living One who says to us “fear not” from the far side of death.
So we ran a Halloween experience in our courtyard, a place for families to have organised fun with their kids not based around the distribution of glucose, a place for them to see a community of all ages wanting to give back to the local area, a place where in gentle ways we acknowledged the challenge of having to face our fears.
It was awesome. With the help of a small army of volunteers, for two hours we ran seven stalls ranging from pumpkin carving and potion making to eating insects and handling live worms. We estimate that something like 600 people came along (including over 300 kids), and many stayed for half an hour or more. This was one of the best community engagement events we’ve run for some time.
The real action in church life is building long term relationships of trust and service around honest and mutual communication in which the good news of Jesus shines through. But hosting community events with a strong positive vibe feels like a win for today and, hopefully, keeps opening doors for us to be a blessing to (and blessed by) Paddington.
Reflection by Byron Smith, Assistant Minister
All saints? How can it be?
Can it be me, holy and good, walking with God?
How can we say that we’re all saints? O that we could!
All saints! – Crucified love
sings from above, what it will do, making us new,
naming and claiming us ‘all saints; till it comes true
Some Saints touch the divine,
and as they shine, candles at night, holy and bright,
gladden the spirits of all saints, giving us light.
All saints stumble and fall.
God, loving all, knowing our shame, longs to reclaim:
standing or falling we’re all saints. Treasure the name!
Come, saints, crowds who have gone
beckon us on, hindrances shed, joy in our tread,
one in the Spirit with all saints, looking ahead.
Brian Wren, 1989, for the parish of All Saints, Hunters Hill, NSW Australia