Pastor Joshua West
Worship Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
October 31st is a day we all recognize as Halloween. Did you know (get ready for the History nerd to come out here) the holiday was actually derived from an ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, originating on a day when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to scare off the “ghosts of the dead” that the Celts believed returned to earth on the night of Halloween? This day truly originated in darkness and evil. Today, the traditions have been passed down for generations, eventually leading us to modern-day trick-or-treating, candy eating, and costume wearing that commences on Halloween night. Because of the origins of this holiday, every church/every Christian family tends to handle this day differently. Some churches choose not to participate in this day at all, while other churches plan their own “festival” at the church on this night (which Shiloh also did for many years.)
Shiloh has chosen to adopt the tradition of hosting annual “Block Parties” on Halloween night, which has been a huge hit in every neighborhood where the parties have been hosted! For those of you who did not have the chance to be involved this year, Block Parties are hosted by several members of Shiloh who generously volunteer their driveway to be the coolest “trick-or-treat” stop on the block! These host homes are provided with huge Shiloh banners, hot dogs, chips, drinks, candy, tracks, and Shiloh Community Church invitation cards to hand out to the neighbor kids and parents who stop by. Bounce houses are blown up, and yard games are set up, in the hopes that neighbors and their families will want to spend some time at our fun host homes and learn what Shiloh is all about! For the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of overseeing the vision of Shiloh’s heart for these Block Parties, and have been absolutely blown away at the way our church family linked arms to create the most incredible event, sharing the love of Jesus on a night that was originally intended for evil.
Looking at the ministry of Jesus on earth, He was the greatest example of how to be a light in the midst of darkness. Jesus did not stay away from sinners because they were “not holy like Him.” Instead, Jesus clearly shared His heart, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Luke 5:32) Over and over again in the Bible, we see Jesus meeting people where they were at. In the same way, I saw how the Shiloh Block Parties followed this example so well, as everyone worked together to also meet their neighbors where they were at on Halloween night.
As I had the opportunity to stop by multiple homes who volunteered their driveways for the Block Parties, I was truly blessed watching the joy and radiant light (not just from the giant flood lights 🙂 each team brought to the different neighborhoods. The hotdogs were being eaten. The games were being played. The candy was being given. But most importantly, new relationships were being formed and people were being touched with the love of Jesus Christ! What an awesome night!