It looked like the closing scene of the movie Field of Dreams when the camera takes you up for a bird's view of a darkened horizon at dusk. Miles of bumper-to-bumper headlights zig-zag down every available road to come see the little baseball field in the middle of the cornfields.
That was the scene Saturday night as hundreds if not a thousand cars tried to make their way toward our church's modest witness of the birth of Christ on our own field of dreams ... and then Facebook blew up.
An outstanding, collaborative Journey to Bethlehem, planned and coordinated by the Purpose Seekers Sunday School class, was designed to accommodate a few hundred cars of pilgrims. This year’s event was simply no match for the over 1000 cars that backed up on Parker Road and Spring Creek Parkway, spilling out from Collin College and the surrounding neighborhoods, all the way back to the exit ramps off 75! It was stunning and unprecedented in 12 years of this offering. To watch the comments on Facebook, one would have thought we had brought on the Apocalypse ... and maybe we did.
For "apocalypse" does not mean the end; it means "unveiling" or "revealing." From my vantage point, as I thanked our visitors in each car and invited them back, I could only smile as I thought of the prophet Isaiah, "The mountain of the Lord's house ... shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it."(Isaiah 2:2).
For me, the streaming of so many toward our modest offering revealed a great hunger that is out there among so many in the darkness - a hunger for light and goodness and warmth and hope and kindness - and we humbly gave that to them. I am so thankful for every child, youth and adult who sang, towed, built, tore down, herded, dressed, fed, acted, directed, welcomed, and loved the hundreds who came and experienced the hope of the Christ.
But our work has only just begun.
Our church is now on the radar of literally thousands and an unknown many will come for the first time to our Christmas Pops Concert and our Christmas Eve Services of Candlelight. Theirs will be a first impression if they did not get in to see our Journey to Bethlehem. What of the Christ will we "reveal" for them from the moment they pull into the very parking lot they could not reach last Saturday night? The best apocalypse will be for them to experience love, humility and a servant's heart in each of us. It will take all of us bringing our best offerings of:
presence and service in the parking lots and hallways to greet and engage;
financial gifts to host, reach out and connect the newcomers;
prayer for what the Holy Spirit will do for others through our loving efforts.
This is an apocalypse of a different kind - the kind Jesus intended: to make Christ known in all our ways, words and actions. I am proud and excited to stand with you to witness for others that "calm and bright" which people are streaming from afar to find.
Held with you by Christ,