- Have you ever been to a picnic in Fairmount Park? I have lived in Philly for over 9 years now, and this will be my first. Ok, a date took me there once for wine and cheese and fruit (it was a romantic gesture, but otherwise the date didn’t really work out!). But still, the park is one of the city’s greatest assets, but do we use it often enough? And, it is summer time, when the living is easy…
- Too often church is about sitting and looking straight ahead and hardly talking to anyone else. Ok, hopefully, there is always good interchange / conversation with God. But I believe the church can’t be any stronger than… its strength is a function of the overlap of our relationships with God and with one another — the two directions of the cross, vertical AND horizontal, sort of tilted to make a multiplication sign. Or a social application of “Loving God with all your heart and mind and soul; and loving your neighbor as yourself.” Come and meet someone new. Or learn something new about someone you have known for a long time.
- There will be games to play that work for all ages and for all physical abilities. For some of you, that’s really exciting: when was the last time you ran a three-legged race or had a water ballon throwing contest? I actually have no idea what games are planned, so do not hold me to those two. For others, games like that sound like a return to the misery of the playground during grade school, or the lowest rung of hell! If you are not the gaming type, isn’t a picnic really about sitting around under the shade of a tree (or also — in our case, in the Lemon Hill pavilion,) — and shooting the breeze?
- We need you there! Each of us has a role to play in this community. (And in life, but that’s a bigger topic.) Both of those are truths I wish we could keep every before our eyes — we’d never dare miss a chance. Paul talks about the church as being the body of Christ with its many parts. And how they need to work together and coordinate. And we all know, sometimes, if there is is something in your eye, you really need your hand and its fingers to help get that something out. I believe that each of us is to be a blessing to others that no one else could be. If you aren’t there, there might be someone left without what they would have received if you were….
- Not all of us have big, summer Family Reunions. Or maybe some of us have them — I have one near Branson, Mo. that I have never been to — but we really don’t want to go! Let the church picnic substitute for some other place you either cannot or do not want to be…. And we plan to finish up about 2 pm, not any longer than a normal Sunday during the program year if you have a meeting or class or lunch scheduled after worship.
- Brian Burton is doing the cooking for us, and (a) he’s a good cook, and (b) he needs a lot of affirmation of his cooking. Be sure to thank him; but even better will be to say, “Oh, Brian, I have NEVER, EVER had a hamburger / hotdog that was so DELICIOUS!” And everyone else is bringing everything else, and that means there will be a lot of good food to eat. Also, don’t tell Brian, but I am bringing cold fried chicken, because really, can you have a picnic without fried chicken?
- It’s been at least 5 years since the last picnic. We hold worship every Sunday. Communion once a month. Holidays once a year, or about ever six weeks (if you think about it?). Potluck luncheons about once a quarter. But picnics only happen once in a blue moon. There’s that “famous” picture of Mindy, our former Administrator, and Greta at the last picnic. But how many people do not even know (could not know!) who Mindy is? Think how much our community has changed in that time — all the people who have come and gone. We need to take every opportunity to be about getting to know each other and building relationships.. Anyway, that picnic was in Fort Washington State Park; this one will be in Fairmount Park. (The next one will have to be somewhere else!)
- Have you ever had holy communion in a public park? Have you ever even broken the bread and shared the cup out of doors before? It is said that the church would do well to go extra-mural, to take itself outside its four walls more often so that world can see what church is really about, instead of what our less than sterling reputation leaves people thinking about us. That’s one of the reasons in temperate months, we often do Fellowship Hour out in the front Courtyard — because it lets passersby know who we are or aren’t. The Scripture says that after supper, Jesus took bread and the cup. So after we eat our picnic lunch, we will circle up and remember that every meal is a communion we ought to do with Jesus. Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, and the picnic is the church having Sunday Supper together, we might just as well have it there in the park under the sanctuary of God’s blue sky and in the church of our world’s open space. Who knows, maybe some passersby will join us. All are welcome.
- A friend asked recently if I thought that the church community was actually different from other groups of people? I laughed and said, “No, we’re pretty much like everyone else. But there is a difference from many communities. At church, people are committing to become a bit more self-conscious and trying to be better, maybe even their best selves. I think that’s true of most religious and other service communities.” Come to the picnic, because it’ll be a great group of people. An eclectic group, as that’s something that Old First excels at — bringing people together that might not otherwise even know each other. None of us perfect — we begin with that too. But trying our best to be loving, forgiving, compassionate, welcoming, merciful, just. We miss sometimes, but more often than not, people surprise me in how they can rise to the occasion.
1. It’s this Sunday! Right after worship. We are not doing much of a fellowship hour (just lemonade and pretzels for any visitors or regulars who aren’t going to Lemon Hill with us). We will have intimate communion after worship for anyone who is not headed to the park where we will have communion for everyone at the picnic. We will organize carpools right after the worship service. Everyone is invited! (For more details, read the full article from the Community Life SLG.)
See you in the park,