Saturday, September 10, 2011

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.

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