“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).
Last Halloween our family joined friends to go trick-or-treating. In our small town we dressed in costumes, loaded onto a hay-lined trailer bed and rode down the streets. At every stop the kids jumped off and ran to the neighbors’ houses. Their smiles and joy filled the air, and with every “trick-or-treat” or “thank you,” I felt closer to our neighbors. Doors were opened with welcome greetings, friends sat on porches waving to the children, and families gathered in yards full of decorations.
Every Halloween it feels like we experience the best of community—greetings of joy, welcoming one another and open doors.
We can bring this spirit of Halloween, the gift of connecting with our neighbors, to the rest of the year. Here are some lessons I learned from trick-or-treating that can be put into practice anytime:
Get to know your neighbors face-to-face. Don’t wait for Halloween to knock on your neighbor’s door. Start small by waving and saying hello to those who live near you. Stop and ask them about their days and what they love to do. Make an extra loaf of bread and share. Once we know the names of people next door and down the street, we begin to see them as God sees them, beloved.
Offer what you can. It doesn’t have to be a full meal with fancy china, but think about small ways you can create community with those closest to you. Buy a box of doughnuts one morning and hand them out to those who walk by. Order pizza and bagged salad and invite your neighbors over for dinner. The gift comes when we make an invite with what we have (ourselves and our presence) and see how God shows up, creating an abundance of riches.
There’s always room for more. Trust that there’s always space in the kingdom of God. Do you notice a family standing alone at kids’ practices or the school pickup line ? Invite them to meet you at the park. Get to know them and their stories.
The more we invite, the more we see how beautiful community can be. The more we see the person down the street or the new family in town as neighbors, the more we can come together and learn from one another. This month take time to make one small invitation to a neighbor and watch how God’s abundant community brings richness to your life.
- Pick one time during the month to be outside. Grab your coffee and snacks (perhaps get some extra) and sit on the porch. See who walks by and say hello. Invite them to join you.
- Read Halloween in the Orchard (Beaming Books, 2023) by Phyllis Alsdurf. In this charming story a boy and his family enjoy everything the orchard has to offer, including searching for scarecrows, getting lost in a corn maze and going on a hayride.
Set aside time to volunteer with your local animal shelter. This month we remember St. Francis of Assisi, who loved and cared for all God’s creatures. Collect food and blankets for the animals or volunteer to play or walk with them.
When you come and go through your front door, say a quick prayer. God, thank you for this house and the people here. May I open the doors and invite others in. May we share your love.