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The work and the faith of painting

You might've heard me preach a few Sundays ago about The House -- our Episcopal-Lutheran campus and young adult ministry -- having entered its arts & crafts era, and this Sunday we finally reach the mountaintop as it were of this season. We're hosting our Christmas Craft Faire Fundraiser and Open House! And you're invited. (It's Dec 4th from 12 to 3 at 820 College Ave!). But in advance of the faire, I want to offer a little more about the thinking behind our season of arts & crafts.

I've worked in the church for almost a decade and the majority of that time has been in ministry with young people. I've worked with middle and high schoolers, summer campers, young adults, and college students, and advocated for the different ways that they gather and make community, ways that are not always represented in or respected by the broader church. So much of my experience working with young people is watching the church wish they acted more like old people already, and it's something that I've learned to gently push back against.

As a youth minister, I lead youth group for six years and spent two hours every Sunday evening making art and playing games and eating pizza, and I started to wonder: at what age, exactly, does it become gauche to play shaving cream wiffle ball and make ice cream sundaes at church? 18? 21? 30? As soon as you have kids? As soon as you have a 9-5? As soon as it feels embarrassing? At what age do we decide that church should stop feeling like recess and start feeling like a classroom or a job or a lecture?

Now, as a new priest, and having just graduated from seminary, having just received two masters degrees and written a thesis, having just sat through years of three-hour long lectures and seminars, I found myself longing for a gentler and more casual expression of the Gospel, and when I arrived here in FXBG, I found my college students and young adults exhausted in much the same way. I think it's worthwhile asking ourselves: What is church for? What are we trying to build here? What is the goal of what we're doing?

As far as I can tell, the work of the church is to build up communities of people who love and care for one another and who are always looking to draw the circle ever wider. The act of loving and caring for one another can take so, so many forms. If the intention at the center of our activities is to love one another, to care for one another, to make spaces for people who have spaces nowhere else to be, whether that work take the form of arts & crafts or potluck or bible study or worship or council meeting -- how could it possibly be more serious than that?

So with all that said, you're invited to come and see the fruit of our community building over the last few months. This Sunday from 11ish to 3, our home at 820 College Avenue is open to you, and whether you like the art or not, whether you donate or not, know you're welcome here, and know that our community and our faith is stronger for the work and the play of a few months of painting.

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