Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Fun for Families

New Day UMC is hosting another event for the Big Lake community.
Because Halloween can be uncomfortable for many families, we thought, “Why not offer an indoor Halloween trick-or-treat path, where games and candy can be provided in a safe, warm environment?!” So, here you go ...

Bring your little princesses, cowboys, ninjas, and ghosts (found this photo online and just couldn't resist!) over to Independence Elementary School (enter through Door J by Community Ed.) any time after 5:00 pm on Halloween night, and we’ll have a completely non-scary Trick or Treat Path all laid out for them. You get to relax with a cup of Caribou coffee or hot cider while your little ones run down the hall from station to station, gathering candy, stickers, and other treats. A photographer’s corner will be set up to capture all their cuteness (bring your own camera or we’ll send you a free copy); a face-painting booth will be available to add a little Halloween extra to their costume; and a game room will offer some simple challenges that can be completed in (almost!) any costume.

We’ll also have more info about our new method, along with a little write-up on the background of this rather weird holiday tradition (did you know that Halloween actually has its origins in the church?!).
Please come on by and invite your friends to join you. We’ll be outside Coborns this Saturday (10/25) inviting people ourselves with Hershey candy bars for the parents; here's a look at the special promo we wrapped around each one!
Finally, anyone who'd like to get in on the fun of helping out should give us call or send us a comment at the end of this post; we'll be awarding prizes to OUR VOLUNTEERS for best costume, best treats, and best decorations.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We Stand at the Door and Knock

The invitations continued to go out ... come join us for a free neighborhood lunch ... just down the block from your house ... food and games, along with some optional Family Stations for you and your kids. Although the results were not as dramatic the last two weeks as they were the first two weeks, we felt good personally inviting people over and offering these Picnics in the Park as a service to the Big Lake community. All told, we served around 120 dads, moms, and children and sent them home with countless more smiles. Sometimes, however, it’s the volunteers who receive the greater blessings; here is one such story of transformation...

This lady was coming all the way from Chanhassen on the final Saturday. Reluctantly, she says, she dragged herself out of bed that morning; some physical “discomforting ailments” delayed her by 45 minutes, but she shook off the urges to make excuses and stay home. Joyful determination slowly overtook her as she met and invited person after person with the love of Christ. One gruff, older gentleman might have scared others away, but not her (he did end up coming to lunch AND he invited another neighbor to join him as well!). Absolute enthusiasm radiated from her when she left for home at the end of the event, and reports are that her sharing at church the next morning was inspired!

Janet and I felt very blessed by her and all of the support we received in order to pull it all off. 57 volunteers stepped forward over the four weekends (several repeats but many new faces each time); 9 other United Methodist churches contributed in some way to the happenings; 3 businesses provided free or discounted items; and $555 was donated to help offset a portion of the expenses! Without a doubt, we would not have been able to do any of this without the wide-spread support of so many who care about reaching out to those who are presently inactive in a faith community. Without a doubt, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without the love of Christ to surround, strengthen, and propel each of us forward with enthusiasm.

I hope you will continue to pray for the people of this area. Pray for those who came forth and shared lunch with us; may these first steps lead to even greater steps of faith discovery. Pray also for all of those people who received the invitation but did not come; may they at least know that there are people out there who are thinking about them and care for their well-being. Finally, pray for those who refused to even answer the doors upon which we were knocking for Christ; may their skepticism, fear, or whatever held them back be overcome so they might experience the abundant life of Christ which is available for all. The Bible reflects on each of these groups when it says:

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” Matthew 6:22-23 The Message
Our eyes are now open to the future to which God is calling us. In the next couple of months, we look forward with wonder to the things Christ will do through our small group gatherings, our Indoor Trick or Treat Path on Halloween night, and our holiday outreach events. Actually, we are still looking for a creative activity or two for the holidays, so if you have any great community-building activities that revolve around helping others in need, please let us know (just hit the word “Comments” at the end of this posting). In return, we pray that the power, peace, and wonder of Christ are blessing you these days as well.

(PS: I will be leading worship at Blessed Cross UMC in Zimmerman on Oct. 19 if any are interested in attending)