Maybe some of you have participated in the Halloween ritual of “trick-or-treating” yesterday. I’m not going to talk today about whether we should or shouldn’t celebrate this holiday. Some see it as a pagan holdover, while others are anticipating All Saints Day, and still others just like to check in with the neighbors. But for those of you who did participate, I want to remind you of the spiritual importance of tithing your Halloween candy.
Now many of you probably haven’t thought about this obligation, being more concerned about stashing the loot before greedy family members find it. Nevertheless, we definitely want to bring in our first fruits to God house, even when they are juicy fruits obtained by shaking down the people on our block.
Someone may say, “Preacher, we tithe our money, but we don’t want to be like the Pharisees who worried about tithing mint and dill and cumin, too.” Jesus never says, however, that they shouldn’t have tithed their spices; he only says that they had to do justice along with their acts of piety. Then he says our righteousness should surpass that of the Pharisees, clearly referring not only to tithing mint, but also mint chocolate.
Remember how the Israelites could leave their tents and go collect manna, much like our costumed contemporaries collect candy? If they took more manna than they should have, it went rancid and became unhealthy. In the same way, when we gather candy and keep God’s first fruits, the candy becomes unhealthy in our stomachs, finding its way to the hips. We find the fats and sugars turning to circulatory system clots, keeping us from loving the Lord with all our heart. So bring in a full tithe to the storehouse of God, where the priests and Levites can share your bounty. Let it be ten percent of all the candy, pretzels and cheese doodles gleaned from the generosity of your neighbors. Give so that the same measure can be given back to you, a full measure of confectionery delights overflowing into your lap.
Note too, the instructions of the Holy Writ in how to bring an offering. We have the example of Ananias and Sapphira who were not open and honest with their gifts, trying to keep the true value of their treasure a secret. They died at the feet of Peter and the Apostles. Be not like them, bringing to God only your generic taffy and the sugar-free hard candy given out by the local dentist. Instead generously bring the best of your labors, the Hershey bars and M&Ms, the Snickers and the Kit-Kats, so that the servants in God’s house may rejoice with you.
Don’t wait, but bring the tithes immediately. Do not neglect your offering to God until your barns are filled with Sweet Tarts and you hear God say, “You fool, your soul is demanded this very night.” Forget not God lest you find yourself cast out into the wailing and gnashing of teeth without even taffy to cushion the grinding of molar on molar. Instead, offer at the altar your filled plastic jack-o-lanterns and your bulging pillowcases so that your place at the heavenly banquet will include unlimited offerings off the dessert tray. Share your sweetest blessings with the priests that your lives may be long in the good land of milk chocolate and honey that the Lord your God is giving to you.