In 5 days we will host FEAST, http://imaginefeast.wordpress.com/, the largest planned event we've undertaken since we launched imagine/Northampton almost 3 years ago. Last year's Halloween event will be larger (350 people), but that large turnout wasn't planned. Remember, we're tiny in number, but we're learning to trust this God "who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is (already) at work within us." (Eph. 3:20) I also think God has given imagineers big hearts, and a willingness to take risk for the Kingdom beyond where we're comfortable.
Or we're just crazy . . . (the good kind that changes lives).
One of the remarkable aspects of the FEAST journey has been how God has completely engineered the process such that faith must be our anchor. For instance, we have no real idea who or how many are coming. I know that sounds daft, but because most of the population of folks we want to bless are out of our range of direct influence, we've had to rely primarily on Northampton Social Service agencies such as The Northampton Survival Center, and the Interfaith Shelter to pass out the invitations we made. We've talked to folks on the street and a few others engaged in feeding the homeless and poor, but there are no hard numbers to rely on. We're planning for 175 to 200. We might get 20 or 300; it depends on who you talk to. So, it's up to God.
Then, there's the small matter of money. In house, we don't have anywhere near the resources to fund this ourselves. We determined $4000 was needed to offer a special meal, one Jesus's guests would remember with warm smiles. We've never asked for or raised that much for a single event. Reality was: no money, no FEAST. Would God do it? The answer's been YES! With pledges and what has been already given, we're very near our goal. 30 generous people have chipped in. Faith strengthens and deepens when you're beyond your ability and God has a clear field to operate.
The next question was: how are we going to get everything done to prepare, and then serve that many folks on Easter? As I mentioned, we really are tiny in number. We got out the word, and Jesus-followers from THE BARN in Simsbury, College Church and Smith College in Northampton, Mercy House in Amherst, St. David's Episcopal Church in Agawam, and Southwick Community Episcopal Church in Southwick climbed aboard to help. Our daughters, Eslie and Alyn are helping. A gifted, young artist named Kait created advertising materials and invitations. People are donating food. College Church is letting us use their kitchens to cook. The BARN is letting us use some of their kitchen stuff, such as warming trays. We have wonderful musicians donating their time: Jen and Kris Allen, Deb Davis and Michael Kelly Blanchard. The Northampton Center for the Arts is letting us get in the day before to set up tables.
Tricia is leading the charge. The regulars in our church are taking responsibility, and some are tackling the early preparations and logistics. Everyone will be there for the event.
What I've observed because of the FEAST faith-journey:
1. Risk-taking for the Kingdom mission is the normal Christian life. Anything less seems missing the point.
2. Fear is a formidable foe, always asking: "What makes you think you can do this? How do you know God called you to do it, anyway? You actually think anyone's going to show up?"
3. Unbelief salted with a little Satan sewage says things like: "There's no point trying this. You guys are losers. You'll never raise the money. Nobody cares. This is way more than you can handle. Relax. Give it up."
4. Taking a risk for the Kingdom increases demonic obstruction, resistance and oppression beyond the norm. It's ramped up for many of us as we're putting FEAST together.
5. Believing for more and taking action as a result reveals God's supreme ability to show forth his faithfulness and incomparable power.
6. Risking in faith turns a safe, lackluster Christian sleepwalk into a vigorous, life-to-the-full adventure of meaning and wonder.
7. "Why not?" and "Who says we can't?" is the vernacular of following Jesus.
More about this next week.