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!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fools for Christ

Here are some quotes from people planning to participate all over the country. People are exchanging ideas and sharing plans on the Facebook event site. I hope they inspire you to join us! Get creative in your context and remember to share pictures and stories from the day right here.
As a Lutheran, I hate to commit too strongly. But I'm definitely planning to maybe participate. - Eric W.

"Embracing Paradox. And coffee hour." That's the sign that will be in my front yard on September 10 in Washington DC. - Kelly B.

Sounds like fun. Though, being Lutherans, we really ought to find a way to incorporate food - like throwing candy at passing cars. :) It would be a reverse parade. Of course, people might take offense to having things thrown at them. We could throw water balloons and shout the words of baptism after them. Ha ha ha. Okay, maybe just offering people bottles of cold water (non-holy) would be a better choice.
- Amanda L.

Thanks, Meta, for challenging us to get outside our comfortable places and introduce ourselves. We'll make some plans to participate at Spirit of Joy, and maybe hand out water or another gift too! - Jeff E.


Here's a thought: invite people to bring their cardboard from sat to church on Sunday...and to leave it at the altar--followed by prayer or blessing of a living Lutheran creed... - Mary P.


I will definitely run this past council and knowing Pastors Mary Beth, Kurt, and Judy, they'll love the idea. We want to be an outward looking parish and share the word/good news of our Lord to others! It is our spiritual calling to others outside our walls-we must do the same as those that gathered at Mt. Sinai and believe without fear. - Michael G.


9/10 is my birthday! Can't think of a better way to celebrate! I'm in in Santa Clarita, California! - Pamela C.


Very Possible. Maybe my whole youth encounter team with do it with me! :) - Ellen L.


Thank you for the great idea! I'm envisioning a Living Lutheran Saturday before our Rally Sunday, and then using all of the Saturday signs in a Sunday processional. Maybe we'll create a display with the signs in our worship space too. - Randy R.


I'm with you, but I'll be affirming my Christian faith in distinction to my Lutheranism. - R. Kevin M.


I'm in. - Marc O.O.


So many corners. I'll have to get some others to join me! - Walter H.


We don't have any street "corners" in our rural parish, but we'll figure something out--maybe banners on farm tractors??? - April D.


GREAT idea. I was in Duluth, MN spectating at Grandma's Marathon this weekend. As this is a large event with large crowds, there were a fair amount of "religious folk" trying to "bring people to Jesus" by use of scare tactics - their big black and red signs read, "God's love is conditional," etc. etc. I felt sad for all the people walking by, getting a heavy dose of fear. So I agree wholeheartedly, let's come together and give out a heavy dose of God's LOVE and GRACE!!! - Maren H.


This is something that I can get excited about... this could be a way of getting the frozen chosen a little thawed out... a most excellent idea. - Paul P.


Texts for that Sunday are very interesting. I like the idea for 9-10-11. - Robert L.


This is an awesome idea and time for us Lutherans to turn the corner on becoming even more mission minded folks. BTW this event is our 35th wedding anniversary too. Thanks Barb for walking with me all these years and now as we journey evermore faithfully to do the Lord's work. - Jim P.


Will be joining and am already plotting how to work this in a rural area... - Jill S.


Cool! I am "in" and will spread the word at SELC and in the Grand Canyon Synod. - Korra L.


Edina Community Lutheran Church is IN. (or, out, for this purpose, I guess!). - Lauren M.W.


Oh, I'm intrigued!!! I'm already thinking of what to put on my sign!!!! - Sara S.


The point is powerful: the Gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be taken outside the walls of the local church to the local community. Amen! And the Gospel's message needs that translation of theology and Gospel Stories into and through the stories and lives of people in relationships with one another: thus, there will only be marginal "success" if a September the 10th effort is just an ad campaign of placards on the street corner. Deep impact of the Gospel Does come via people talking authentically and deeply about Christ's work in their lives, put into words and stories what they believe and translate it into their vernacular and caringly share those stories in authentic relationships... - Randy B.


I love the awkward/awakened distinction! - Amy O.


I REALLY like this. I am so tired of people who propagate an alien gospel speaking for Christians everywhere. I am so tired of having my faith measured and judged by a conservative social agenda. And it is past time we spoke out for peace and justice--locally, nationally, and internationally. Perhaps if we who are called and claimed acted like we believed the grace we have received, it might make a difference. Suggestion: those who are thinking about participating--and I am talking to myself here--go the the elca advocacy page for issues and ideas. What is the worst that could happen? We might be, with the Apostle Paul, fools for Christ. - Chip B.



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Let the Brainstorming Begin!

People are starting to think about their signs. What will these pieces of cardboard say about their faith and the way they live it out loud? How will they show their Christianity and Lutheranism using only a few words on a simple sign? I love listening to people brainstorm.

Some are proud of our romance with good food and coffee, fellowship hour and potlucks. Others are embracing the way we hold everything in tension - living in between the already and the not yet. One is quoting a hymn and another is pointing to liturgy as the reason her faith is woven throughout her life.

So what are you going to write on your sign? What do you want to write, but you know you can't fit it all on a sign? And what kind of conversations will grow out of the brainstorming process? I can't wait to hear more.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's that simple.

After suggesting this idea to many on Facebook, I was asked to make the information more widely accessible by starting a blog or making a poster. Well, I did both. I hope this can be a place for people and congregations to gather excitement and ideas as we prepare for September 10th.

More than 350 church leaders and Lutherans of every kind have agreed to participate so far. Most are in the Minneapolis area like me, but some are really brave and plan to hold signs in the Bay Area, rural North Dakota, Texas and Connecticut. That's pretty exciting.

Whether you stand on a corner 500 miles from the nearest person participating or just down the street, we're all bound to feel a little bit silly and a little bit brave. That's the point.

So if you wish to find us on Facebook, it's an open event page called...you guessed it: Living Lutheran Creed. If you want a flyer to use as you make plans in your community, you can find it on the homepage of my congregation's website: www.stjohnsmpls.org. Then again, I made it in Microsoft Publisher 2003 while rocking my kid to sleep and you can probably make an even cooler one yourself. (Note that there's open space on the poster to list a local time and place to gather for sign making.)

It's tempting to try and over explain this event - people want a lot of information. Some are looking for approval from their synod office or more details than I care to provide. But I'm doing my best to keep it simple. Make this event unique to your community while trusting that the same basic idea is happening all over the country.

Have fun planning and leave your comments here as you make plans for 9-10-11. It's exciting to hear the creative ideas folks are eager to share!

What do you mean "Living Lutheran Creed"?

Lutherans often describe their congregations with words like 'friendly', 'welcoming' or 'hospitable'. Super and probably true, but I consider this to be part of our Lutheran problem. These are lovely but reactionary descriptions of God's people. They all require others to make the first move.

It's hard to initiate - to meet people outside, to tell our story, to be proud proclaimers when our (spiritual) heritage prefers stoicism and quiet humility. But maybe it would be easier and FUN to practice making that first move together.

What if a bunch of Lutherans - I mean a bunch - all make signs stating something we believe in and all stand on corners in our neighborhoods on the same day at the same time? What if church and community leaders got people together with markers and pieces of used cardboard to talk about what we stand for and what our faith means? And what if we all got outside our walls at the same time forming a really, really big creed?

And what if people bump into it? People will drive by, see us and have all kinds of reactions. They might notice that we were holding messages of abundance in spots that usually scream scarcity or that instead of asking for money, we're just saying something that's true. They might be annoyed. Or they might be curious. We might be awkward. Or we might be awakened.

So I'm throwing it out there. Tell your synod office. Put it in your church newsletter. Make it your own - the idea is vague and that's the whole point. This experiment has just two goals:

1) To stretch us. Standing outside inviting other people to notice us because of our faith might feel scary or strange. We might draw a blank when figuring out what to write on our signs...and that might spark important conversations. But if a bunch of us try it together and then share our stories, it could be really really interesting. I'll make sure a blog or Facebook page is born so people can share photos and experiences - perhaps encouraging a second outing.

2) To many non-Lutherans, we are simply potluck people who listen to Garrison Keillor. Showing people driving/walking/biking by that we are more than a culture - we are people of faith - couldn't hurt.

So I propose a date for those who wish to join in. Saturday, September 10th (10am-noon CST). The next morning is Sunday and everyone will be figuring out what to do with the fact that 9/11 happened ten years ago. I can't think of a better way to be 'friendly' and 'welcoming' and 'hospitable' than by meeting people where they are the day before and reminding them that Church is a people and place where we hash this stuff out. Of course, any day will do.

Any takers? I sure hope so.
But if it's just me and my kid standing near a freeway ramp, that's still something.