What do Halloween, beer and liturgy have in common?


Because in my life and experience, I give them meaning.

I worry my way through fall, because I know that the cold weather that makes my body and soul ache is on its way. I didn’t used to have this problem, because I was better at enjoying the moment without considering what came next. Then again, I was also eight years old. I looked forward to Halloween because I got to be out late at night, running the streets in order to collect candy. Maybe I was a little hoodlum, because more than receiving unearned treats, I enjoyed being out late at night.

I also liked carving pumpkins (I still do). I grew my own for several years. I’d slice into them and cut the most awful, horrifying faces I could, because that’s what I wanted. My mom or sister would bake the seeds and I’d typically eat all of them in a day.

Since coming to Jesus, enjoying the holiday is tantamount to celebrating the devil’s birthday. I’m only mostly kidding. But churches have Halloween alternatives that have fall, harvest, or trunk somewhere in their names. I suppose I’m fine with this, because either way, there’s candy, pumpkins, costumes and fun.

It isn’t much different with beer, either. Maybe it’s just my tradition, but so many Jesus people seem to think it’s the evil equivalent to ambrosia or something. Really, it’s just a drink. If we’re critical of it, then we have to be consistent and follow our logic all the way through and look at soda as something that makes people fat and gives them diabetes. All that should matter to it is one’s relationship. Beer (or soda) can be a beverage or a belligerent boss, it all depends on our interaction with it.

Which brings me to liturgy. I can go through the motions and roll my eyes at the standing, sitting and reciting I see in other traditions. I can examine the history and intentions behind it all. I have the ability to make personal associations with any piece of it and connect with the Lord because the opportunity presented itself. Any of these means something different and leaves me defining the experience on my own. Being intentional about it makes it more fun and doesn’t waste time, which is nice. It even works outside of liturgical practices. I can look at the excessively pentecostal approach to faith and do something with the traditions and practices I find there, too. I can criticize them, or I can utilize some of them in my own walk with the Lord. Making fun is more enjoyable with some of those, but I might be missing out on something good if I limit myself to that.

Of course, everything I just wrote about has its own dictionary definition. I can’t and don’t care to change any of those. Everything has a solid truth attached to it, I just don’t necessarily have to pay attention to it. Then again, it makes sense to allow those definitions influence my own thoughts, but if I do that, I can’t carve pumpkins, which is a huge bummer. And at the same time, I’m not playing with meaning simply so I can live any way that I want to. God sees our hearts and therefore understands the significance behind everything we choose to do. Besides, if I’m living for God, then ultimately, the meaning I give things will come from Him in one way or another. It’s really how this game works.

What has a special meaning to you?