The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
It’s been at least five years since my friends and I last performed our Halloween drama, but it still seems strange to be in mid-October and not to be consumed with rehearsals for “Satan’s Worst Nightmare.” (The title refers to the Resurrection of Jesus, not to us!) My book of the same name was to be released this past summer, but I’ve hit some snags. I shouldn’t be surprised. With all the resistance we encountered presenting Christ’s Resurrection on Halloween, why would I not expect even more push-back when writing a book that I’m hoping will inspire other people to do similar things where they are?
Still, nothing says I can’t share bits and pieces of the manuscript with my readers in the meantime, so here’s this week’s preview, from the chapter entitled, simply, “Weather”:
When the topic of weather is referred to, it is often with the connotation of its being the epitome of shallow and trivial conversation, but there are exceptions. These exceptions include when a hurricane is heading for your home, when a drought threatens to destroy your crops, and when you are planning an outdoor production in Michigan at the end of October with no “Plan B.”
It is a well-established fact that man does not control the weather conditions on any given day; the closest we can come is prayer – lots and lots of fervent, repeated, consistent prayer. In the case of the Halloween outreach, the prayers for the weather on October 31 usually began in August or earlier. They continued in growing numbers in October as we would gather before each rehearsal to come before God in unison.
In the fifteen years we had the outreach, we have never once been rained out.
This does not mean that performing outdoors was always comfortable, not by a long shot. It does mean that there was always an audience. Some years the fire pit on the sidewalk probably caused some spectators to linger a little longer than they otherwise would have. God knows, and He controls the elements.
Every year Kelly would pray for a “warm, balmy night” for the outreach, and I would always agree, thinking in the back of my mind, “It couldn’t hurt to ask…” One year we actually did have temperatures in the 60’s, and it was delightful. But overall, the weather was usually typical of southeastern Michigan at the end of October, it just never rained on us during our production.
There were plenty of times the skies and the weather man threatened rain all evening, and as each performance ended and the actors looked to me for instructions, I would tell them, “Hey, it’s not raining yet, let’s go for one more,” and we would start again, always squeezing in as many of the 20-minute performances as we could before the 10:00 closing.
Usually the night of the outreach was cold enough that the actors would run inside to warm up between performances. Dollar store gloves (black for the demons, white for the angels) were a staple, and some years I would give up trying to keep the kids from drinking hot cider in costume and just pray they wouldn’t spill it on their white robes before the evening was over.
Probably about half the outreaches we did had heavy clouds hovering over us until the very end of the evening, after which the rain would start. More than a few times I would be driving home Halloween night in a downpour, barely able to see the road in front of me. But it was always with a grateful heart – God had made the rain wait for us again.
In the Eye of the Storm
One year I drove to the Tuckers’ house in a downpour, praying, OK, Lord, this has never happened before, but You are in charge. Just let us know what You want us to do now…
But when I got to the Tuckers’ it wasn’t raining there. We did have people coming in from all directions, asking, “Are we still doing it? It’s raining like crazy in Marine City.”
“It’s pouring in Richmond.”
“It’s raining cats and dogs in Marysville.”
“Wow,” I thought out loud. “Wouldn’t it be cool if it rained everywhere except St. Clair?”
“Annie,” said one of the moms, who lived in St, Clair, “it’s raining in parts of St. Clair, it’s just not raining here.” (Understand that St. Clair is not all that big.)
We gathered for a few minutes of intense prayer before going on with a whole evening of performances, while the skies above us held off – again.
This Is Cool, but …
I remember one year it was windy and bitter cold. During the first performance, as Satan stood raising his fist and gloating over the death of Jesus, the wind whipped his cape, while a maelstrom of giant snowflakes whirled around him. Some of us stood taking in the drama of it, our mouths agape. As a director, I was slightly torn.
OK, I thought, this looks awesome, but if it keeps up, these kids will all have pneumonia by the end of the evening…
Kelly wasn’t torn at all. From behind me I could hear her authoritative voice bellow, “In the Name of Jesus I command this snow to stop – NOW!”
Seconds later, no more snow. I was mildly disappointed, but mostly relieved.
Each year it was a matter of prayer whether we would have the outreach again. For fifteen years the answer was “yes.”
The year we decided to forego the outreach there was a hurricane that affected practically the whole east half of the country, and Halloween night the weather was so unpleasant that I could count on one hand the number of trick-or-treaters that showed up at the Tucker household. I was sitting on their porch handing out candy and tracts, and a couple of them asked how come we weren’t having the show this year. I laughed and pointed to the weather they were crazy enough to be out in, and silently thanked the Lord that we had not worked for six weeks on a production that was clearly not to be that year.