By: Nikolaos Karloutsos, Seminarian
With Halloween around the corner, I was thinking about how we like to get dressed up and get reactions wherever we show up, or from whomever answers the door when we’re going trick or treating. Basically, we’re eliciting a reaction that we hope will include some sort of shock, either fear or laughter or confusion. Ideally, though, we don’t want to have to use words to describe who we’re supposed to be or what we are “dressed up as.” We want our costumes to speak for themselves. I remember in high school, sometimes costumes were so effortless that homeowners would ask “what are you supposed to be?” and we would sheepishly say something like “a bum” or “a broke high school student who can’t afford a costume.” If you happened to dig up an old undersized jersey from travel soccer, you were a washed up athlete or maybe someone from the 80′s if you found a funny wig. The point is, on Halloween, we all try to look the part, to be convincing, to be believable.
I often think of a quote that my mother shared with me once: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to prove it?” We try so hard to make our persona known to others at Halloween, but do we then try that hard to do the same year round with who we really are as Christians?
In the New Testament, the metaphor of clothing is used quite a bit. At the time of Christ, just like today, clothing communicated certain things about one’s socioeconomic status, class, vocation, etc. Clothing was a way to readily identify a particular person’s affiliations. At our baptisms, we as Orthodox Christians “put on Christ” when we are anointed with the Chrism of the Holy Spirit, for as the hymn during the baptism service says, “All those who are baptized in Christ, have put on Christ!” Also, in the New Testament the Book of Ephesians tells us, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (6:11) This passage speaks to each one of us, because we know the huge importance we give to our appearances – whether we’re attending a school dance, going on a date, going to church or playing in a sporting event, there are appropriate and expected items that we wear to suit the occasion. So, if we “dress for the occasion” and, as we are called, we put on Christ and wear the armor of God, how are we then to act?
What I wonder about is if in our daily encounters with our fellow human beings we are convincing as Christians. Do we live the faith we say we follow? Are we believable as Christians? Are we communicating our Christianity by dressing respectfully (literally, but more importantly metaphorically, as in the way we talk, behave, smile, etc.)? Are we living up to the Chrism we have put on at baptism? Are we true enough representatives of our faith as Christians that we don’t have to describe to someone who we are and what we’re all about?
That’s the challenge I have for you. This Halloween, many of us will dress up in costumes and try to convince the world that we are someone that we really aren’t. The important thing to reflect on is not how convincing our costumes are on Halloween, but how well we convince the world in our daily lives of who we really are as true Orthodox Christians. In our dealings with our family, friends, strangers and neighbors, we have an opportunity to communicate to them who we are truly “supposed to be,” who we are called by God to be.
Nik Karloutsos is a DAD seminarian at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and from the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Danbury, CT