I’ll have to admit, I’m one who has been fascinated with vampires since I was a child. There was a soap opera that came on each day when I was a child called “Dark Shadows.” I loved that show and was only allowed to watch it with my mom present. That didn’t help me to not be scared. My nightmares were full of bats flying around my house; of vampires hiding in my upstairs, creaky bedroom; of what would happen if I was bit. One of the major tv networks is hosting a show tonight that explores our obsession with vampires. This really got me thinking….
Ask anyone. There is something that scares them. Some of us are scared by something and yet choose to continue to indulge in it (such as scary movies or vampire shows). I’m one of those people. I wonder why? It would seem reasonable that if something really scared me, I’d stop doing it! But there is something about being scared that is exhilarating. And so once a year, we dress up and celebrate the “Night of the dead.” We shout, “BOO!” and threaten tricks that scare. We walk around the neighborhood in the scary dark. As a Youth, we’d go hay riding out in the middle of now where and tell “ghost” stories of local lore. Scary stuff!
The next day, we celebrate All Saints Day – a day set aside to remember the saints (all Christians) that have gone before us in the faith. Those who are dead. I’ve thought deeply and fondly about my grandparents, aunts, uncles, my best friend Valerie who left way too soon, and folks from my hometown church and churches I’ve pastored who were mentors to me. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be where I am in my spiritual journey without each one of them and others who have touched my life in some way. But isn’t there something about this day that is a bit scary as well? I mean those folks are dead and yet somehow that doesn’t scare me. I don’t “see” them “dead.” I remember them as if they were just here. I don’t picture them dead in my head. I don’t see them with sunken hollow eyes. I don’t see them in tattered, flowing white grave clothes. I see them just as I remember them – beautiful and full of goodness. And although I’m not scared, I’m still exhilarated!
Why? Because I believe in the resurrection. No, I do not know how we will be resurrected and that really doesn’t concern me. What does concern me is how easy it is for us to believe in (or be so obsessed with) the “almost dead” or “undead” but we have such difficulty with this basic Christian belief. When God created humankind, God said it was “VERY GOOD.” The world we have been given to occupy is stunning. The beauty around us is often so amazing we cannot even comprehend it. The beauty in creation, including humanity is “VERY GOOD.” So why would God bring us back from the dead as anything other than something of beauty and goodness? When God raised Jesus from the dead, people were scared at first – until they heard him speak and knew that it was really Jesus. It was as if they saw him but couldn’t really comprehend him – his amazing beauty and goodness perhaps? I just know in my very being that even in “death” I will be taken care of and loved; I will be beauty and goodness just as God sees me now. Death is a “this world” issue and truly is not scary to me.
That may be why I continue to indulge in vampires, zombies, and haunted houses. Maybe that’s why I can still watch “Ghost Hunters” in the dark and sleep at night (even if I have weird dreams!). Because the most scary stuff in this world has little to do with physical death and more to do with the death of our spirituality, with the death of relationships, and with the death of unconditional love. The good news is that I serve and worship a God concerned with resurrection – restoring our spirits, revitalizing relationships, and building up our ability to love others unconditionally. What exhilaration! What joy! What hope!
So go, have fun with the scary stuff of Halloween….but never forget the love and care of the God who created and continues to create “VERY GOOD.” Remember that the real work of resurrection is done each and every day in us – the living – and will continue…in a way that may just be too beautiful and good for us to fully understand now. And yet, that isn’t scary at all.