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Boulevard Booth: Deeply Rooted – Branching Out

by Will Storm

“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit.” – John 15:4-5

In the upcoming season of creation, we will remember that Christ restored the dignity of creation by first restoring the dignity of humanity, uncurling our hearts from their inward spiral to show us the face of our neighbors: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the unclothed, the sick, the imprisoned. There are many dark edges to our shared existence in this world and many places we would like to run from, but as a Church we bear witness to the fact that God sent one into this world who even though he had no stone on which to lay his head made this place his own home, calling us to be stewards and attendants to all people and all creation. Through Christ, humanity is called to stand together as one family to live together on earth, our one home, and together we are called to care for that home and for each other. For in our creation filled with the majesty of Christ, we are at home.

The homepage of our website says, “St. Luke’s welcomes the many, diverse communities that share this neighborhood. If you are a lifelong Lutheran, or just considering Christianity; if your family has been in the United States for generations, or has only recently arrived; if you are gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual or transgender; if you live with disabilities, chronic illness, or are ablebodied and currently healthy; if you are home-blessed or homeless . . . YOU are welcome here!” Though we of course hope people feel welcome in our pews on Sundays, we also have the larger mission to make welcome our fellow humanity in this neighborhood, in this city, and in God’s creation, knowing what good gifts we have received. That means we are to practice hospitality. To this end, we will be pushing this year to make our presence at the Boulevard communicates these commitments by attempting to create a tangible experience whereby those passing can experience a moment of good neighborliness, the coming together of a blessed community to express our needs, our failings, and our hopes.

Signage will direct visitors to the booth to take up a scrap of cloth or paper and to write or draw memories and hopes for this neighborhood. Volunteers will stand ready to listen to the voice of these people about this neighborhood, sharing St. Luke’s own hopes for this place. The completed scraps will then be attached to tree branches to create a collaborative artwork. We hope that the piece will reflect the belief that our earth, our air, our city, our lake, our neighborhood have been entrusted to all the people who share them as a part of God’s creation. For this reason, Jesus taught us to be good neighbors to all people by serving them with God’s compassion, mercy, and love, because we are all anchored together like branches to a single root of creation. We hope people will take a moment and meet their neighbors, share both their struggles and successes, their worries and hopes, the injustice they see around them and the love.

After the fair ends, these branches will be taken back to church and hung around the edge of the sanctuary to mark the beginning of the season of creation. The installation will serve as a visual reminder throughout the season of creation of our responsibility to grow fellowship with the community of Logan Square by listening to its many voices, responding with love, support, and hospitality.

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