Today, we journeyed from Bronxville, to the Bronx, to Brooklyn and back. (FYI: that’s a lot of train time!)
We dug deep in dirt, got covered in dye, and ate a delicious dinner.
We had green thumbs… and green toes (and arms, and legs, and faces, oh… and some of the green got on the canvas.).
We saw more sights, served in suburbs, and shared our Savior.
Our journey of exploring the theme “this is church” truly blew our minds and rocked our world today.
As we set out with the goal to SERVE in Jesus’ name, we saw Romans 12:3-8 jump off the page and come to life. From park staff sharing their passion of caring for God’s creation, to Pastor Ben McKelahan inviting us to join him in using art (“and it doesn’t even have to be good art!”) to share Christ, we saw the various gifts and talents God has gifted people with rise up, along with the courage in those gifts to step up and SERVE using them.
We made art in the park by chasing down dye-filled bubbles to catch them on foam board, and in doing so we were able to share the joy of Christ with people who joined us and invite them to Pastor Ben’s church* to continue conversations about art, faith, and life. In these moments, we were certainly not “conforming to the pattern of this world” and as we did so, God’s plan for our day was clearly obvious. (*Side note, in saying “Pastor Ben’s Church”, don’t think of a typical church building, some of his worship services look more like making bubble paintings in the park than sitting in pews singing. Check out his blog, linked above.)
A cool God opportunity that came out of that, was that it “just so happened” that the camera crew filming the Bushwick art festival arrived at the same time we did at the art gallery our project was based out of. Ben and Nate got to share about our project, and therefore about Jesus, on a live internet stream!
In the morning, while planting over 1,000 trees and 3,000 shrubs and flowers at a park in the Bronx, we saw two boys with special needs in need of some positive encouragement. I witnessed almost every single one of our group members step up and seek out opportunities to encourage them, inviting them to help us, keeping them busy and focused on the task at hand. We even got to see their gifts of a sense of humor and passion for the task shine through as well!
I was also caught by the fact that it took A LOT of people to plant those trees. While the park staff was there directing and helping, there was no way they would have been able to plant all of those trees without the help of the 50 people or so that showed up. But, with that many people all working together we accomplished the task in a few hours and the impact will remain for possibly hundreds of years. In the same way, God calls us, the Church to bind together, using our various gifts and talents to make an impact.
It is really difficult for me to explain today and how were able to SERVE in Jesus’ name, but perhaps the best way to do so is in sharing what one of my group members said on the train ride home: (loosely quoted) “I guess I just realized that the Church is just SO MUCH MORE than I ever thought of before! Really, anything can be church… life is church.”
And now, enjoy some pictures from today that perhaps reveal more than words ever could:
Planting Trees in Van Cordtland Park (The Bronx)
Nate and Ben being interviewed about our Art Incarnate Project for a live internet stream:
Art Incarnate Project at Maria Hernandez Park in Brooklyn, NY:
Art Incarnate Project by the Art Gallery: