Holiday tradition gives reason to smile

Rev. John Chamness
Rev. John Chamness
Grace Ministries
As a society, we have a passion for ranking things.

We have top-10 lists, top-10 sports, top-10 movies, top-10 bloopers, and on and on.

Even in the Church, many try to determine their rank; the disciples did this.

In searching for what criteria to use in determining their rank, they asked Jesus, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matt. 18:1).

In response, Jesus called a child out of the crowd and said: "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:4).

Jesus put children in His top-10 list.

Last week "trunk-or-treat" for the children was held; today, if all continues as usual, many children will be going door-to-door with that familiar chant heard only at this time of year.

That thought reminds me of a cartoon I once saw of two monks looking over a retreat wall, one commenting to the other: "Year after year they came, descending on me like great hordes of locusts, until I couldn't take it any longer and I had to escape.  I can still hear their voices — ‘trick or treat, trick or treat.'"

I've heard comments recently from some adults like: "I don't plan on turning on my light," or "I''m not giving the little beggars anything!" or "People ought to stop all this foolishness" or "I'm buying peanut butter cups, and turning out my lights."

At my house, we are entertained by nearly 200 such little creatures each year and I've discovered all of them are very polite, kind, and eager to be on their way as soon as we can give them a treat, a smile, and a little blessing.

Sometimes I, with a smile, ask them for a trick before giving them a treat.

Some stare back with a questioning face until I break down and bless them anyhow.

But, there are some who will do their best to offer some semblance of entertainment to satisfy my seemingly selfish soul.

That being said, I would not ever send any of them away dissatisfied.

Along these same lines, I do so appreciate the several signs in our city yards that relate those homes as places of safety should any of our children feel the need.

And I'm proud of and appreciate those parents who walk with their children, stand nearby observing, and even take my photograph while the tricking and treating takes place; good parents all.

What's the point, again? If you have prepared for this "All Saints Day Eve," enjoy it and love the children.

If you haven't prepared, and presuming you are able, rush out, get some appropriate treats, and get ready to bless, to be blessed, and remember to smile.

Remember, Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.  For he who is least among you all — he is the greatest" (Luke 9:48).

You, too, can "welcome" Jesus by blessing the children.

Not only by giving them a treat, a smile, and a kind word but perhaps even by praying for them, volunteering to help in your church's nursery, as a classroom helper; or perhaps even by just standing beside a child as you welcome Jesus and God the Father into yours and their life.

Think about it.

May you be seen in your church regularly, too.

Rev. Dr. John I Chamness is pastor of Grace Ministries in Perryville.


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