Halloween Masks and the Church


As a child, I had my share of nightmares.  The wicked witch from the “Wizard of Oz” would fly through my bedroom window to get me. Ronald McDonald and a gang of clowns, including Bozo and the Town Clown from Captain Kangaroo, would chase me down the road as I ran for my life. Even today, clowns still sort of freak me out. It might be why I prefer Wendy’s over McDonald’s.

However, the most frightening dream I ever had was the one where I was standing in the school cafeteria line. As I was on my way to the cash register to pay my 10 cents for my lunch and a carton of milk, I looked down to discover that I had somehow forgotten to dress myself that morning. I was as naked as I could be.

Now, I am not a psychiatrist, and I do not presume to know how to interpret dreams. I do not even know if dreams can be interpreted. But maybe those boyhood nudist dreams reveal something profound about human fear.

Maybe one of things we perhaps fear is to stand completely exposed before our peers. Maybe we are all somewhat afraid of revealing who we really are—warts and all.

On some Sunday mornings, someone who doesn’t know me very well might look at me and say: “The Reverend certainly has it all together. He is well-dressed, well-groomed, well-fixed.”

But under the façade and behind the smile, I know that there is little about me that should be revered. I am oftentimes selfish, proud, and I am flawed.

Maybe that is why Halloween still intrigues us today. On Halloween, we have permission to cover it all up, to pretend to be someone else. On Halloween, we can wear our masks shrouding the pain and the sin.

And if we are honest, we would admit that the masks rarely ever come off.

Perhaps we need to hear the truth of the gospel again: God loves us—warts and all. God loves us just as we are. And of all of the places in this world, the church should be a place where we can take off our masks, expose our flaws, reveal our pain, and know we will be accepted and loved.

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