Parking Day and Tearing Down Walls

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This is a piece of mine published in the church newsletter The Carillon this week:

I recently came across “Parking Day,” a day when people in different contexts and communities take over a parking space for a day and make it into an oasis in the middle of a city. Maybe it’s a cookout; maybe it’s an art installation; maybe it’s a small public park.

 

The idea is to offer something important and needed to your wider community. I love this idea of transforming public spaces so often geared towards one thing into a new incarnation of church in the world. In doing so, we find ourselves transformed as well. What might a church like ours offer in the midst of a busy street for two hours? What is our urgency that draws us back here again and again, and how can we move that into our wider world?

 

This summer, young adults in First Church are going beyond our walls. We are alternating the long-standing weekly Gather with evenings spent out together, building community in more casual settings. A group explored Oakland’s First Friday, and we will be coming together for game nights, karaoke, picnics, hiking, and more this summer.

 

We also get out every other Sunday afternoon this summer at On Tap: Bibles and Brews. This is a regular Bible discussion group convened with Alex Bonte that meets at Jupiter, a popular pizza pub on Shattuck. The mission of On Tap is to explore where the stories in the Bible intersect with the stories of our lives in the places where our lives are lived. The last part about “where our lives are lived” excites me as a way to experiment with how the church is incarnated in new spaces.

 

I see in some young adult activities a new incarnation of church, one that emerges in our wider local community. With open Bibles on a restaurant table, those gathered share the joys and the challenges of their lives. At a community art piece at First Friday in Oakland, young adults paint their response to “what inspires you?” in brilliant blues and reds.

 

I hope that line between “church” and the community we dwell in continues to blend, and we all can explore how to bring elements of one into the other. We, as a church, are the Body of Christ. Where will that body be incarnated in our wider local community? I’m excited to see what develops.

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