Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thanks, Everybody!


Ben Cieslik, one of the pastors at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis, spent the morning driving around looking for signs all over the Twin Cities. He's pretty techie and whipped up this video to pass around.

Thanks to all who shared their stories and pictures. It's fun to hear about this experiment in different contexts. It's hopeful that so many were glad to see us. It's exciting to know that Lutherans can do something this organic even though we're spread out all over the place.

Keep "going public" with your faith. Laugh at yourself when discipleship is awkward. Invite others to believe that hope rises up in the most unlikely places. Stuff like this makes me glad for our Lutheran identity and the mission we share as members of Christ's whole body.

This is the last post I expect to make on this blog, but I'll keep it active for awhile.

What wonderful memories and bread for the journey!

Gratefully, Meta

Great Signs!

Folks at Peace Lutheran Church in Washington, Missouri moved their sign holding to Sunday since Saturday was really rainy. This way, it became part of the Adult Education hour. Lots of people passing by waved, gave a thumbs up and smiled at their hopeful messages. Beautiful signs and wonderful words - both held by Lutherans and on their congregation's marquee.






"Going Public"

Mount Carmel Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI sent these photos. This event helped them renew a commitment to their synod assembly theme this year: Going Public. What a great theme!

On Sunday, September 11 the Sunday school kids made signs and had a parade around the church in celebration of the things they believe. So many congregations found unique ways to connect Saturday to Sunday morning worship. Great idea!




In every context.

I received several pictures from River of Hope Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, MN. They figured out how to make the Living Creed unique to their context. This first picture is my favorite. Half the fun was embracing the "awkward factor" and laughing at ourselves.

It's fun to see pictures of people on busy streets in big cities and rural country roads in small towns. No matter where people held signs, they were smiling and waving and getting a few honks. Here's the word from Hutchinson. Enjoy!

It was a hoot. Hutchinson is a town full of churches. We got honks, embarrassed looks, waves and smiles. We got one heckler, which was awful, but they sped away quickly. I had everyone make signs on the Sunday Jesus asks Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" A few were made Saturday morning, too. People were nervous and excited. It was fun and galvanizing for our new community.
- Pastor Laura Aase








Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Feedback

"We were surprised by how much fun it was and we will do it again!"
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran in St. Paul, MN

David in Holman, WI displayed a sign on his local bike path route.

What a deal! This reverse lemonade stand turned some heads.

Bright and early on Lowry and Oliver in North Minneapolis.

Eric, a senior at Luther Seminary, held this and wore his collar.

Today engaged Lutherans of every age.

Pastor turned farmer and momma shared her faith in Shepherd, MT.

Brian was biking in Rowlesburg, WV!

As people were driving through the fog in Urbana, OH this morning, they saw: "I believe there is a God that REALLY DOES care about us", "I believe we can overcome all of our differences in a non-violent manner", "I believe Jesus is a pacifist", "I believe all lives are precious: including those on Death Row, Illegal Aliens, the unemployed, people who use public assistance, our enemies, those who hate us, and YOU!" among other beliefs. - Michael Poole


God believes in everyone ,,,, but not everyone believes in God .... and God knows that and still loves them ,,,, someday they will believe ....just sometimes people take the long way around ,,,, and there is always a reason for everything ...Don't be scared God is there.....!!!!! - Angie Smedsrude


Thanks for starting the ball rolling on sharing our faith in the public square. Our group was surprised by how much "fun" it was! Noah counted the cars who honked in a half hour (25). Lots of waves from people who passed by, and we will do it again. - Bonnie Wilcox


Just 3 of us from St. Peter Lutheran in Prairie du Chien, WI....but who knows what seeds God planted today?!?! - Susan Onken Van Metre


‎11 of us in Victoria, TX from First English Evangelical Lutheran got together in the Texas heat! It was great! Lots of honking horns and one woman brought us some canned goods to donate to the needy. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to live our faith! - Pat Rickman


At the WV bicycling time trial in Rowlesburg, WV today. The shirt even led to some interesting discussion with folks. - Brian Bennett


In Milwaukee, WI, on the edge of the Marquette U campus, and in the poorest of the zip codes in the city. The *best* pictures would have been the looks on people's faces when they realized we were offering the lemonade AND a quarter--no catch! Our attempt to "show" what we believe about grace. Wonderful morning. - Lisa Bates-Froiland


In Rochelle, IL, we had about ten of us out. One random Facebook comment thought someone was protesting. The only negative was a mother and daughter who both gave us two thumbs down. - Steven Dow


Some have posted videos on the Facebook site. Send me the you tube link and I'll add it this week...or add it in a comment on this post yourself.

How'd it go?

Today was the day! A bunch of people met in the church lounge to make signs and share coffee before we spread out in the neighborhood. A and J had their first date and shared some time with this sign. I think they're ready for the cover of The Little Lutheran.

At ten we went outside. Most of us stayed along Nicollet and within blocks of each other so this would make some sense and so we could give each other a context. I decided to start at the southbound exit ramp on 46th Street and 35W. The sidewalk is wide and the highway wall would provide nice shade. I often see homeless and hopeless people standing here, so I figured I'd get a lot of eyeballs.

Within 25 minutes, I'd been offered $57.00. I don't think the words on my sign were able to transcend the assumptions people had about that spot. Many assumed I was homeless (or using my kid to evoke some sympathy cash) and while I got a lot of smiles, there were a few dirty looks, too.

Since confusing people wasn't the point, I moved back up to Nicollet and across the street from my parents. It was a whole different atmosphere on Nicollet! I had left my parents an hour earlier slightly terrified of this idea and way out of their comfort zone...but now they were smiling, waving and getting bus drivers to honk. I was so proud!

One bus driver invited me on at her stop to tell everyone what we were up to. She made it perfectly clear that she didn't agree with Lutherans about "the sex thing" and I replied, "Well, there are a lot of different kinds of Lutherans on either side of that issue, but today isn't really about our issues. It's about the stuff that unites us." She liked that and so did the passengers.

One employee from the bagel shop wandered over during his break and told me about his Baptist church. He thought the whole idea was pretty cool and when the woman from Kare 11 came to interview me, I asked if she would interview him, too. He's really hoping to be on the news tonight.

I stood by a bus stop for awhile and everyone waiting was curious and friendly. Some held J's "peace be with you" sign for a few minutes before going on their way.

Some people avoided eye contact and seemed annoyed by this project, but geez. It's a free country and we're hardly oppressing you with our two hours of sidewalk theology. Others were expecting us and glad to see us out and about. Most were confused or pleasantly surprised as they drove around town.

I'm really proud of the 18 people from my congregation who made signs and decorated Nicollet Avenue. This was not easy and I'm so glad for their courage.

I'll soon post some of the most immediate feedback I got from the Facebook site. Later this month, I'll add a short video that compiles all the pictures, videos and stories sent my way. Send me what you have by Friday (pastormeta@stjohnsmpls.org) and I'll make sure it's included.

THANKS for participating - for getting outside your comfort zone and saying hopeful things that come from your faith. Now keep thinking of other ways to use your words and hands for good.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's almost here!

The Living Lutheran Creed is just five days away! It's time to extend one more invitation to your congregation, neighbors and friends. Write a press release and let your local newspaper know. Figure out where you'll stand and what your sign will say. Will you have props, a chair or anyone else with you?

I'm still scheming about my own location and plans, but here's what I've got so far:

There's an exit ramp from 35W near my congregation. Someone is usually standing there asking for help, so I'll ask if I can join them. If not there, then nearby in the Tangletown-Kingfield neighborhood.

I'll have my 7 month old son along. We'll have a camping chair, a blanket and some toys for him, but hopefully he'll be able to spend some time in the front carrier helping me hold my sign. I sure hope the weather is nice, or I'll need to invent and resort to Plan B.

I might make little flyers in case people roll down their windows and ask me what the heck I'm doing. Since we won't have long to chat, it will be good to send people off with information about what they just witnessed.

I think my sign will say something like, "I believe God's not finished with the church yet...so neither am I."

I'm excited to hear about Living Creed experiences from all over the country. Bring a video camera or take pictures of your sign making parties, interview people at noon about their experience or show how the signs are used at church the following morning. Share your stories by commenting on this blog or by contacting me directly.

To avoid spam, I'm not going to post my email address here. But you can reach me through my congregation's website and contact page: www.stjohnsmpls.org.

When I get nervous or awkward or receive a fantastic reaction, I'll be encouraged by all of you, trusting that there are lots of us proclaiming all over the place! Thanks for participating and BE BOLD!