Here are five initial things that I want to share:
1) Hope Still Flies
I'm physically and mentally tired, but at the same time, I'm so incredibly motivated/excited/pumped about the future of the Church. Like many others, I have concerns about the current state of the Church, how we have failed to live out our calling, how we have harmed so many, how we have failed so many. But in light of this weekend, I feel a new day dawning. No, we did not solve all the problems of the world this weekend (give us a couple more days though...), but I do know that we have a great and powerful hope. Hearing all the speakers, artists, vendors, participants, volunteers engage issues of peace, justice, love, theology, mission, etc. reminded me once again that what is is not what has to be. To quote Five Iron Frenzy, hope still flies. I needed that reminder.
2) Keeping It Real
It's awesome to meet people you have observed from afar and find out that they are even more awesome in person. My main responsibility over the weekend was to be the host/chauffeur for many of our speakers and artists who came from all over the country. It was amazing, because that meant that for the length of our trip, I had chance to pick their brains in a confined setting. Getting to know brilliant folks like Erica Granados De La Rosa, Bruce Reyes-Chow, Richard Kentopp and Rachel Held Evans was a huge blessing to me. There were many other very interesting and fantastic folks as well but I had the most time with these four people. If you don't know about them, I highly encourage you to check them out and revel in their brilliance.
3) Fast Friends
I think I had the most one-on-one time with Rachel, and I just want to say that the Rachel you read on her blog is the same one you meet in person. She was a delight to get to know, and I think she and my wife might have been separated at birth. She's so genuinely nice and willing to share her journey with folks. Whether we were talking about the big important issues of life or the newest episode of Breaking Bad that we were both missing over the weekend, I felt like I've known her for years. She's so easy to talk to and she has a true gift for communication. She might tell you she's just a writer who maybe begrudgingly got into speaking, but I think she's selling herself short. She does a fantastic job of telling her story and experience and inviting others to both share in hers and express their own. She is a true woman of valor.
4) The Power Of Community
One of the coolest things I saw was the ongoing development of a community. One of the most important, maybe THE most important, things we wanted to do with this festival was to gather a community of people who were wrestling with the same questions, issues of how the Church should speak for justice, work for peace, inspire hope and share love in the world today. The "voice" of the Church has as of late been dominated by ideas that, in my opinion, do not match up with how I read the message of Jesus Christ. I feel like the people gathered there were asking those same questions and trying to figure out how we can live out what we believe in the midst of perhaps louder voices of so many varieties, as well as how we can listen to what those voices are saying in an open and inviting manner. I've written before how the life we lead can be isolating and frustrating. This weekend was a beautiful and powerful reminder that I am not alone in this. I am not the only one who gets frustrated. I am not the only one who wants something more. I am not the only one who doesn't know where to start, and feels like I am but one drop in a vast ocean. The power of community has a multiplying effect, and that was certainly evident this weekend.
5) Giving Birth Is Hard
Having never been a part of creating something like this, I am honestly just a bit relieved to have one under our belt as a team and so pleased to see it go so well. Most of our team had never done something like this. We were newborn foals, learning how to walk but needing to run due to a tight time-table. This event was conceived, planned, prepped and executed in less than 10 months. Basically, we gave birth to the event in just a bit longer than it takes to birth a child. And like I imagine most parents of a newborn feel, I am totally proud of our baby. It is a beautiful emblem of hope, full of promise and potential. I cannot wait to watch it grow.
This weekend was a brick laid toward building the Kingdom of God. One brick doesn't seem like much when you're building a city, but one brick joins another. And another. And another. Foundations take shape. Pieces take form. Buildings are built. It does not happen over night.
But it does not happen if we do not place our brick.
And so we work.
May Your Kingdom come.