"A grandmother pretends she doesn't know who you are on Halloween." ~Erma Bombeck
"Clothes make a statement. Costumes tell a story." ~Mason Cooley
As pastor, I put on a costume every week - I wear my robe and stole, and these signify my role as a worship leader and pastoral caregiver. Some of you wear your costumes on a regular basis - lab coats, aprons, construction hats, logo t-shirts, sports attire, or even a dress or suit and tie. The costumes we wear say something about the roles we play and the values we hold. Next week is Halloween, and we get the chance to try on a costume that might represent a role we'd like to play or a different value we hold. Or, conversely, we might try on a costume, just for the fun of it, that is the opposite of our real values.
I don't remember too many of my Halloween costumes. I do remember one year, when I decided to be "a man." Not a particular man, like a celebrity or politician or superhero, just a man. I wore a mask that was some random guy, and clothes that I considered "manly." No, it wasn't an indication that I was wrestling with gender identity, at least not in the way that truly transgender people do. I do think, however, that I knew, even at age 10, that there were some things that might be easier and more possible for me if I were male.
In the church, we often try on "costumes." Some of them are literal costumes, like the stoles the welcomers wear, the choir robes, or our "Sunday best" clothes. These kinds of costumes can bring out the best in us, inspiring and reminding us to extend God's extravagant welcome to everyone. We can also choose to wear a figurative mask, trying to hide our inner feelings from ourselves and others.
Being a man for a day let me imagine what it might be like to have a different life and the privileges and challenges that might come with playing a different role. The Halloween season offers us the opportunity to try on some costumes we never thought we'd wear, and to try out some new roles. Maybe you've never been an usher or greeter. Maybe you've always imagined yourself to be a famous singer, but you've never joined the choir. Maybe, as a child, you wanted to be a public speaker, but you've never even read scripture in public. Or maybe, just maybe, it's time to leave the mask at home and be your real self in church, among people who love you.
What costume will you try this year? I'm looking forward to seeing them. Hope you have a festive and fun week!