We were grateful that the weather had cooled ever so slightly last Saturday, September 10th. Instead of a high temperature of around 102 it was only expected to get up to about 96. Yea! Six degrees -- when you're standing at the intersection of a couple busy streets, holding handmade signs for passersby to read -- makes a difference.
And that's what we were doing last Saturday, six youth and two adults from Shepherd King. We were participating in the "Living Lutheran Creed" - an event stretching across the country to share some good news. The purpose was for Lutherans to get "out of the box", to push themselves to interact with their neighbors in new ways. Lutherans, as a body, are not very outgoing. We usually prefer to do our faith-related stuff inside the church building. We would like to have visitors and new people in our fellowship but we expect them to come to us. Taking part in the "Living Lutheran Creed" got us outside our church doors and into the street to greet folks with the news of God's love.
Making a living Lutheran creed, people from congregations around the nation made signs expressing what they believe and then held those signs up at busy street corners. Youth from Shepherd King created signs saying, "I believe Jesus saves," and "I believe God = Love" and "I believe there is hope for tomorrow," and "Honk if you love Jesus." By ten o'clock on Saturday morning we were stationed at Blanco and West, and at San Pedro and Ramsey, holding our signs for all the world to see. We had no idea how we would be received.
Cameron had made the sign that said "honk if you love Jesus." He and his sister counted 153 honks in response to that invitation in just over an hour. In addition to the honks we received lots of waves and smiles, too. Putting myself in "the other's" shoes, I wondered how I would have reacted if I'd seen people standing by the side of the road holding signs that said "I believe... God loves you (and me)," or "I believe... live life, love God." My first thought might have been "uh-oh, who are these weirdoes out on the street." Would I have been annoyed, thinking someone was trying to "preach" to me? I don't know. Wondering about it made me appreciate that much more the kindness of those who greeted us with joy and enthusiasm.
I had assumed we would feel a bit awkward and exposed standing there with our signs, but the smiles and greetings of passersby made us feel welcomed and appreciated. As we stood with our signs it became apparent that, although our congregation is not large, we belong to a much bigger family of Christian people in the city of San Antonio. People of various races and ages gave us encouragement and support showing themselves to be, not strangers but our brothers and sisters in Christ. We thought we were bringing God's love to the community and found that our neighbors gave God's love right back to us - warm and personal and real.
Thanks be to God who responds to our worries with signs of hope and assurance. Truly God is here among us in this time and this place, lifting us up, showing us our commonality with one another. Thanks be to God who loves us, to Jesus who saves.