If my memory serves, Church of the Open Door started Trunk or Treat in 2010.
Our friends had a little orange car that we turned into a trunk full of spaghetti and meatballs. We dressed as chefs and passed out candy as “CODinis” (say it with an Italian accent). I didn’t really think much of that first night, but many people did, because the following morning it got put on the calendar for the next year.
A dozen years later and we’ve all learned not to take events for granted. We are excited to have Trunk or Treat on the calendar again this year on Saturday, October 29th! (For 3 specific ways YOU can make a difference in this outreach, check out the P.S. and link below!)
Truth be told, my priorities were a little off after that first year.
I only started to really care about the event when I heard there would be a prize – something you could WIN. Okay, now you’ve got my attention. I LOVE winning. Confession: inside my own head I try to win at absolutely everything, so much so that at the slightest inkling that I might be losing, I quickly reframe the situation to make losing more noble than winning – surely, a humble loser is winning more than the outright winner? I might be a bit crazy, but for sure I’m a sinner.
Every trunk after that first one got bigger and better. I’m ashamed to admit just how validated I felt when we won awards each year, but even more embarrassed of how I felt when we didn’t score the coveted “Treater’s Choice” award. I mean, helloooo this is supposed to be about Jesus and kids and community!
Second to winning, my favorite part of the night has always been walking around the lot to see all the creative things people did with their trunks. Did I mention I am both the least creative and the least talented actor in our group? I basically show up to win and take the credit for what everyone else actually did (although I did become an expert at gluing bald caps on my husband).
Fast forward to last year when Children’s Pastor Jessica Lee asked me to consider heading up Trunk or Treat.
I knew immediately that I would enjoy the role. As an Enneagram 7 “Enthusiast”, talking people into signing-up for things is my spiritual gift. I have to be honest, my initial questions to her were about how this new role might compromise my own group’s chances to win first prize. My children’s pastor, who often functions as my pastor too, might have been a little baffled by just how much this meant to me, but I’m so grateful for the grace she showed in still allowing me to lead.
In His great mercy, God convicted me to devote lots of time to prayer about it. It seems the longer I follow Jesus, the sanctification comes as I become more aware of my sinfulness, not less.
After talking with God about all the ways I’d need Him to cover for me, I was thrilled to start recruiting the competition – I mean partners in ministry!
As I encountered each person who volunteered to devote their time, energy, and money to put together a trunk and pass out candy to half of the city only to tear it all down after a few hours, I got a taste of what our Lord must feel for each of us. I got a taste of His pure delight and pleasure in every uniquely designed masterpiece, full of devoted affection, utterly devoid of any kind of ranking.
By the end of the evening last year, as the awards were passed out, I couldn’t have cared less if my trunk had won. I found myself wishing I could bestow a “very best trunk” award on every single car.
Truth be told, all the categories we use to decide who wins can never take into account all the factors that went into making each trunk special. There wasn’t a car in the lot that didn’t have unique significance for some sweet child that Jesus loves.
I just know our Savior was watching from above that evening – noticing a child sitting in the backseat of the car, waiting in that long line up the driveway to get to the parking lot. The Master of the Universe was anticipating the moment that kid would see the trunk that reflected his most favorite thing.
And I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit even picked the exact piece of candy (that would have just barely arrived in time on a golf cart after we cleared the shelves at Stater Bros.) that a volunteer would drop in his bag. Whether the child knew it consciously or not, he was being treasured and adored by his Almighty Creator, as was everyone else there.
Winning has not lost all meaning in my life, but it has diminished slightly as I look back at that glorious, earthly-but-heavenly, physical-yet-spiritual event, knowing that He loves me as I am.
I also have come to know that any chart, measuring rod, or competition I can manufacture to make myself more worthy is laughable as He gently shakes His head and says “My child, earning and deserving have no bearing on my love. Enjoy a candy bar and just rest in Me.”
While there will still be some awards at the end of the night next month in the spirit of celebration and church family fun, for me, for once, winning will not be the point.
Trunk or Treat Facilitator
P.S. By now it’s obvious that I LOVE this event, and God has used it to shape me in ways I never expected. I’d like to invite you to consider how you might be part of this upcoming outreach to our San Gabriel Valley neighbors.
Here are 3 ways you can participate:
1. Invite your neighborhood families. Pick up some invitation cards from the Trunk or Treat table on the front patio of the Worship Center on a Sunday. Watch for a Trunk or Treat post on our COD social media and share!
2. Donate candy. Bring a bag or two of individually wrapped candy to church, and put it in the candy donation bucket on the front patio of the Worship Center. (Last year around 1500 people came up for Trunk or Treat, so your candy donation will help meet this need.)
3. Create a trunk. Be as creative as you like, but simple is great!