February 07, 2019 | Stories | Plant Faith by Patty Groot
As I prepared to write you an update on our plans for Norton Commons, I came across an article that I wrote back in 2014, called Is Easter Really About More Than a Bunny….When I’m The One Wearing Bunny Ears?! As I reviewed the article, it made me realize that God had been calling us to this area for many years. Here are some excerpts from what I wrote:
So, as I’m unloading 4,000 Easter eggs at Norton Commons and a plush, adult sized, full-on Easter bunny outfit while wearing my bunny ears, I’m wondering, “What would Jesus think about all this?” But as the minutes flew by I clicked into task mode and got busy setting up tables, placing balloons, greeting workers and doing all the tasks that needed to be done before our guests arrived. I totally forgot about what Jesus might think until a friend walked up, put her arm around a couple of us and said, “How about I pray for us before this thing gets started.” And after the prayer, the most wonderful thing happened. I turned around to see people coming into the park from all directions. Hundreds of people. Coming to the Easter Festival! I took a deep breath and soaked it all in. Over 1,000 people descending on the park in Norton Commons to celebrate Easter. It was awesome!
As I looked around, I saw a mom and her two little girls standing in line for a picture with the fully costumed, head-to-toe, white, fuzzy Easter bunny. The girls had dark, long hair and big brown eyes. Mom had dressed them in matching pink dresses with small white flowers appliquéd on the skirt. They wore thick white sweaters and held beautiful, white Easter baskets. I wondered if those little girls went to church. I wondered if they knew all the great songs that the kids sing in Sunday school. I thought back to when my girls were that age. Because I didn’t come into a relationship with Christ until I was well into my 30’s my girls didn’t have the advantage of growing up in church. I wondered if those little girls knew that God, too, was waiting for them with open arms.
I watched as a mom, dad and little boy came out of their beautiful home across the street. I thought, “How wonderful it must be to live in a house like that and to have all these fabulous amenities available anytime you want to use them.” And then I remembered that I used to live in a house like that, in a neighborhood almost as nice as this one, and I remembered the chaos and emptiness in my life. I wondered if that family was satisfied with what they had or if they were longing for something more. I went back to a time in my own life when I didn’t realize the hole in my heart was there because I was longing for God. I didn’t realize that no matter how big the house, how pretty the clothes, how private the schools, how new the car…it wouldn’t fill the emptiness I had in my heart.
As I approached the amphitheater, I heard a voice telling the story. The story of what happened when the women went to the tomb and found it empty. I heard my pastor telling the crowd that Easter IS about more than a bunny. It’s about the resurrection of Jesus and the love He has for each and every person. And at that moment, I could not have been more proud of my church family. We were planting seeds of faith. Only God knows what will happen, but we were there being faithful and doing what we are called to do.
We were in the middle of one of the most difficult mission fields possible and we were telling everyone about Jesus and His love, and we…
WE were living proof of that love! You see, it hit me that there are different kinds of hunger and thirsts. Sometimes they are physical and sometimes they are spiritual. If you look at people with ‘God glasses’ everyone looks the same. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black or white, a boy or a girl. Everyone is a child of God and we have a duty to share the good news with each and every person on this planet. And sometimes it’s really hard to share the good news with people who look like they hunger and thirst for nothing. It reminds us that, we too, have a long way to go. That we fill the holes in our lives with things other than God. We fill them with jobs that make us feel important, with alcohol that numbs the pain, with stuff that will turn to dust not so long after we leave this world.
This is what I wrote in 2014 and today, four years later, I see things exactly the same. God is calling us into this particular mission field so that we can spread the Good News of Jesus and it’s really that simple. We have a God who prepares us and who asks the question, “Whom shall I send?”
I’m excited to tell you that we are receiving the same kind of warm welcome starting small groups in the neighborhood as we did when we organized the Easter Festival. The Bridge Norton Commons is now our established faith community in Norton Commons. There are many ways you can be a part of and/or support this wonderful new community. I can’t wait to see what God will do.