This week, Hickory Neck is hosting its 16th Annual Fall Festival. Not having seen a Fall Festival at Hickory Neck myself, I cannot give you an endorsement from experience. But here’s what I can tell you. The Fall Festival highlights all that is good about Hickory Neck. Parishioners old and young, newcomers and old-timers, those working and those retired have all chipped in to prepare for the event together. People volunteered readily, volunteers charged forward with their assigned tasks, leaders recruited with ease, and parishioners have been baking and purging their “attic treasures.” Church members and friends have been sharing the word with their neighbors, and the grounds are slowly transforming as we prepare for the big event.
Even more impressive to me is that all the proceeds of the Festival are earmarked for Mission and Outreach. All the hard work going into this event is all for the benefit of our neighbors in need. The passion poured into this event is as strong as the passion for the ministries we serve. Just last week, I visited one of our beneficiaries, Avalon Center. Avalon is an agency working to end domestic and sexual violence by breaking the cycle of abuse through prevention, education, shelter, and support services in the Williamsburg area. Visiting Avalon and learning about their clients made me remember how easy it is to go about life when your life is not touched by violence, poverty, and suffering. We could easily close our eyes, ears, and mouths and stay willfully ignorant about our neighbors in need.
But that is not the way of Jesus. Jesus could always see and hear. Jesus always spoke for the oppressed. As we have journeyed through Luke’s gospel this year, we have heard over and over how Jesus sees us – even when we don’t speak. That is what we are trying to do when we engage in mission and outreach – we are engaging in seeing, hearing, and speaking – in acting on behalf of our neighbor.
So yes, we are going to eat awesome barbeque and Brunswick stew. We are going to ride on hayrides, bid on auction items, and shop through other’s treasures. We will laugh, play, and have fun. But what is tremendously inspiring to me is that all this hard work, all this nourishing fellowship, and all this use of our resources is rooted in walking the way of Christ. Our work leading up to Saturday, and our work on the day of the festival is all our way of saying we commit ourselves to seeing, hearing, and speaking. I hope you will join us!