My faith community, Christian Life Assembly, had a Freedom Celebration this year, with music, bands, food, vendors, games, a petting zoo, and fireworks. It drew between 7,000 and 8,000 people. the crowds were so packed into our 52 acres that the police finally started turning people away.
Families were everywhere. But the most poignant thing I noticed, from the photos of the early hours of the celebration, was that folks were working like a huge family preparing a holiday celebration! The guys were out in the fields setting up tents, platforms, stages, speakers, stands, etc, like professional “roadies” before a concert! The staff, women, and kids were setting up the food, tables, displays, rides, and taking care of the animals. But hundreds of community members were working together–like a real family, preparing everything for the celebration. You’ll see that in the photos, taken as the entire event came together. There are even fireworks pictures!
We’re living in Amish country here, surrounded by communities of Amish and Mennonite folk who band together and help each other through every situation. They build and rebuild barns and houses, support each other through disasters, hold services, weddings, and funerals in their homes, teach their own children in their own schools, and sell their produce at Amish stands and markets all over this area of Pennsylvania.
That’s what I saw–a modern-day Acts 2 community, working hand in hand to prepare the way for folks to come and celebrate Freedom. What I learned is that sometimes a message on “loving your neighbor” can be delivered much more powerfully by example than by speeches.