Friday, November 02, 2012

of long tongues and cleaning up after the carnival: Post Halloween Thoughts

This Halloween was a unique and crazy carnival for The Gathering. Every Halloween is that, but they each have their own strange life. This year a few new friends, and new events set the stage for the changing future of outreach in Salem.

Christianity Today asked me to write a story about the circus of outreach styles which occur every October, and to focus on the things we do during the month. Our friends Michelle Pritzl and Shawn Fitzgerald were asked to provide photography back up for the story.

I placed myself and a few friends in the last slot of the evening: Aaron Zev Katz, David Gerard, Mark Muzeroll, Jim and Allison Trick, and Michael Pritzl (who just moved to Salem a couple months ago, and when we get together we look like Dumbledore and Snape ) joined me for the closing set of Halloween Night. My favorite moment of the whole month of Halloween Outreach (remember Halloween is a month long event in Salem) was when we were leading a crowd of hundreds singing with us to such songs as Lake of Fire, and Amazing Grace.

Friends from other outreaches joined us for the first time: Hope Deifell (my favorite Burner), Kelly and Bonnie Williams (who were at the Wild Goose Festival), and our always faithful and surprising friend Alan Drake from Dallas brought his friend Kresimir Zeravica (a brilliant Croatian now living in Dallas).

Our Children's Day was on the verge of going extinct, but thanks to some help from Jason Silva from the mayor's office, Ellen Talkowski (the Queen of Halloween), Dominic Benvenuti from Domino's Pizza, Aggregate Industries, Fiesta Entertainment, and Shara Sobelman the event is on the rebound and should grow well over the next couple years.

Dream Interpretation teams rocked it, and a few new friends (Leeland and Kimberly) joined us through the month and touched people's hearts deeply.

More than any other year, some of our visitors from distant places left in tears, because they were so touched by new friendships they developed. And of course, those friendships included our friends who love The Gathering, but do not identify as Christians. Bonnie, Kelly, and Debora Spotted-Eagle just had to get a picture with their new friends. They just fell in love with Valor, Stephen and Dan - the Witch, the Tie-dye Buddhist Guy, and the Agnostic.

Valor added color to the season by making a "Hug a Witch" sign and standing in front of some aggressive street preachers. Dan (the agnostic) stood in the pouring rain of Hurricane Sandy getting drenched, and waited for a street preacher to take a breathe, and then asked if he could get him a sandwich or a coffee (note: Dan has been out of work for quite a while). These were funny moments, where the people who love us but do not identify as Christians were showing love to people they struggled to accept. These are lessons for all of us who do call ourselves Christians.

So, now my tongue is hanging out, and I am ready to sleep for a month, but the clean up must follow the carnival. This was a great year of surprise, and the biggest surprise was the fact that dozens of people wanted to start following Jesus. Of course, as always we will gauge that by the daily changes occurring in heart, mind and action. Following God is not the easy path of life for most of us.

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David Gerard said...

You were sorta wailing like a street preacher on "Lake Of Fire"...........that's how you lost your voice!! :)

David Gerard said...

You were sorta wailing like a street preacher on "Lake Of Fire"...........that's how you lost your voice!! :)

Steve Hayes said...

Sounds like you had a good time!