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Photo credit:  Jennifer Andrews-Weckerly; resuse with permission

This past weekend, our family traveled to Staunton, Virginia, for their annual Queen City Mischief and Magic weekend – a weekend to celebrate all things Harry Potter.  We had a great time discovering what houses we were sorted into, observing how to duel with wands, and learning dances for the next Yule Ball.  The kids busied themselves collecting trading cards from costumed characters and from local establishments.  The whole downtown area shut down and found creative ways to channel the world of Harry Potter – from the local train station taking on the persona of Platform 9 ¾, to a photography business creating keepsake photos, to a toy store changing out their stock with Potter toys, games, and books, to the local university offering lectures related to themes from the series, to the local spirits store selling “butter beer.”  For those who love the Harry Potter books and movies, it is a great fun-filled weekend.

As we drove home, I realized what amazed me most about the weekend was not the characters, the paraphernalia, or the crowds.  What amazed me was how a few years ago this small town had a crazy idea to convert the town to this magical place – and everyone bought into the idea.  Staunton does not have some significant tie to JK Rowling or the filming of the movies.  They are just a small town in the middle of the state who decided to do something – and the whole town was all in.  I do not know the history of that idea, or how many people said, “but we’ve never done anything like this,” along the way, or how they figured out the logistics and convinced people to get on board.  But what I can tell you is after two years of attending the festival, the whole town is not just grudgingly on board, but wholeheartedly comes together to welcome people to their town that might not otherwise ever step onto their streets.

I know Staunton converts itself for just three days.  But the more I thought about the event, the more I wondered what kind of power our community might be able to harness for good.  I have certainly seen hints of that kind of energy with the WMBGkind movement in Williamsburg – a community of people committed to being a community of kindness as their dominant identity.  I think that is why I have always thought WMBGkind and the faith community can be such great partners.  Though we use religious language, the end result is the same.  We want our community to be a community that lives Christ-like lives of loving-kindness.  In that way, no matter what our denominational or faith differences are, we can step out of our day-to-day operations and be a part of something much bigger – of a people all united around mission of loving neighbor as ourselves.

This week, Hickory Neck kicked off its stewardship campaign, “Shining our Light.”  What I love about the campaign is the campaign reminds us to look at how much light we are gifted with (in worship, in learning, and in play), and then to gift that light the community around us – to shine our lights, rallying the entire community to live life differently.  That is a cause I am happy to pledge our financial giving to; that is a cause I am excited to pledge our time and talent to as well.  This month, as we pray about our own stewardship, I encourage you to think about how your giving not only supports the ministry of Hickory Neck, but might just have the power to transform our community into something much bigger than ourselves.  I am all in.  Won’t you join me?