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See you later, alligator!

July 7, 2009 Leave a comment

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 So we had a party at Marjorie Park. In true West End Christian Community fashion, it was going to be a unique event. Somewhere along the way, we got it into our heads that it would be a great idea to barbeque a shark. For most Churches, this would be a jolly joke that would quickly be forgotten. But not for us. As soon as he heard the idea, Guy got on his magic phone and ended up finding a way to have shark steaks from out west donated to the Church. They wondered if we wanted some alligator too. Of course we did.

 Now it was Shark in the Park. We arranged to have a pirate (Brad) entertain the kids, George was committed to finding a way to cook these sea creatures, and Ginny was willing and able to allow the Church to use her giant inflatable dragon kids’ play structure (it could pass nicely for a ‘gator!)Kids.jpg

 We should have taken the hint when the shark was stopped at the border. Sensitivities in Canada regarding sharks as a species made it impossible to get the thing across the lines, so we just settled for more alligator to be sent.

 Then we found out we couldn’t get any electricity at the park. We could if the party ended at 5:00 pm, but it started at 5:30. So no inflatable dragon.

 Then the pirate got sick. And the alligator almost made it, but the Manitoba officials wondered what we wanted to do with 40 pounds of alligator. It seems we ran afoul of some imported food technicalities.

 So we had the Park Party anyway. Burgers and hot dogs hit the grill, and chicken fingers hit the big deep fryer. WeGeorge_mime_1.jpg thought of telling people that the alligator just tasted a lot like chicken, but … no. George and his crew cooked away and served the people, John, Allyson and I beat the tribal drums, Ginny, Kim and Carolyn brought all the stuff they could for the kids’ games, and lo and behold! Over 100 people came out – many from the neighbourhood – and we ate, talked, got our faces painted, and had a good time in each others’ company. George’s face looked particularly scary. For me, he inspired an idea for another Batman villain – The Mime! (“Why so talkative?”)

 There’s a lesson in here somewhere. It seems that the essential ingredient in an “event” isn’t a shark, an alligator, or a pirate. It’s the PEOPLE. If you’ve got them, you can go a long way. For me, the people made the Park Party a huge success – the Church and the community gathering andWater_table.jpg spending time with one another. The other stuff would have been cool, but we actually had everything we needed – each other!

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)

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Summer of love…

July 3, 2009 Leave a comment

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Summer, 1967. I can’t say that I remember it well, as I was only 5 years old, and my time and attention were taken up with driving my red pedal car. But all around me in the grown-up world, something significant was happening in modern North American history. During that summer over 100,000 young hippies gathered spontaneously in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco to live out a social phenomenon that was to be called The Summer of Love.

It seems that the younger generation during this period of time, tired of a society that promised but didn’t supply happiness, decided to construct their own separate micro-society, based on love and good will towards others – at least other hippies. So they descended on San Francisco in droves, lived communally, shared their stuff, set up free clinics, ignored the law – both legally and morally – and took lots of drugs. At the time, it was considered to be no less than a full-blown social revolution – a kinder, gentler sub-culture based on LOVE. Or so it seemed.

The hippies began with the right idea – God’s Golden Rule – but they left an important ingredient out of their experiment – God. So it was bound to either blow up or fizzle out. Interestingly enough, it did both. The Summer of Love quickly turned into a Summer of Crime as the Haight-Ashbury District became overwhelmed with people and their problems. And with drugs as the substitute god for their new society, the hippies had sealed the fate of their short-lived Utopia. I say short-lived, because the Summer of Love was pretty well over when the summer of 1967 ended, as many young people simply woke up and went back to school or just decided to get on with their lives. 

During that Summer of Love, the hippie generation was looking for the right thing in the wrong place. By the right thing, I mean love. By the wrong place, I don’t mean San Francisco . I mean apart from God. We as human beings have an ingrained sense of our need for love – not just sex, which is what our unfortunate generation has twisted this longing for love into, but real love for one another; a decisive, higher love for our God and for our fellow human beings. That kind of love is “what the world needs now,” not the anaemic version of the ‘60’s (missing God) or the twisted version our culture is now steeped in, but the genuine article – “AGAPE” – a higher love.

This higher love is not to be found in counter-cultural movements, philosophies, or naïve humanistic optimism. We simply can’t generate the very kind of love we need, because “agape” doesn’t originate with us. It originates with God. He is love – that higher kind. He loves us. He wants us to love Him back. He wants us to be filled with His love, and out of the overflow of His love for us, to love others with that same kind of noble, decisive, higher love.

If you are wondering what the Lord may have for you this summer, why not make it a Summer of Love? Of course, I’m not talking about going to San Francisco with a flower in your hair. I’m talking about a summer of seeking the God of Love, seeking to understand the extent of His love for you – especially in Jesus Christ, seeking to receive His love for your salvation, healing and restoration, seeking to return His love with yours for Him, and seeking to love others out of the overflow of God’s love for you. Now that would be a real Summer of Love!

That’s what we’re going to do in FireLight this summer. As we gather in the Lord’s presence over the summer, we will be seeking to better understand and relate to this God who loves us so well. I think Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:17-19 is a prophetic word for us over the next couple of months – “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

I’m looking forward to this FireLight Summer of Love. If you want to join us in this pursuit of the God who loves us, you are most welcome. Flowers optional.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)

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