Last June my husband, Brian, began his first call ministry at our ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) church. In the hustle and bustle of acclimating to a new home, town, and church, the opportunity to hold a summertime church picnic slipped through our hands. It seemed that we had only just arrived – and then before we knew it, the first snowfall of winter was upon us! I’m still amazed at how quickly those first months flew past.
This year we were determined to make sure summer didn’t end without throwing a church picnic. There was no definite plan, but that didn’t stop Brian from picking a day and announcing the event. He had no reserved location and no clear idea of what would happen that day, but he moved forward with an “if we announce it, they will come” mentality.
He was right! Soon after announcing the date of the picnic, a couple from church volunteered their home as a location to hold the event. With a large swimming pool, a volley ball court, fire pit, and a large open yard, it is a perfect place for such a large gathering. Two other families donated tents to keep the hot August sun off our heads while we ate and socialized. Church members with trucks volunteered to help transport and set up table and chairs the day before the picnic. Everyone – I mean EVERYONE – helped out with the food. We Lutherans sure know how to please a crowd at a potluck – every dish there was homemade and delicious.
We were blessed with perfect weather; hot and sunny, but not too humid and no threat of thunderstorms. After a delicious lunch together, the fun began in earnest. In addition to the swimming pool, there were yard games and relay races. On a hot summer day no minds getting a little wet, so we had plenty of volunteers for the water balloon toss and the sponge relay races. Prizes were small trinkets or pieces of candy, but the real treat was spending the time together.
By the late afternoon, the picnic was winding down, but clean up was a snap. Church members stayed to dismantle the large tent, and to return the tables and chairs. Kids put away the pool toys and gathered up the yard games. It’s amazing how quickly a task is accomplished when a community is willing to work together.
In just a few days, a new school year will start and the seasons will change. Sunday School will begin for the year, the leaves will turn vibrant colors, and our attention will focus on football and pumpkin pie, hayrides and bonfires. By holding the picnic at the tag end of summer, we had a perfect way to close out a summer’s worth of fun. I especially enjoyed the picnic because our congregation came together for a day of unity outside of our traditional worship gatherings – like one big family! From the smallest children to our oldest church members, everyone took part in the fun. And isn’t that what a church family should be – a place where ALL of us can come together and experience unity in Christ, whether we are inside the church walls or spending a day in the sun. I can hardly wait for next year’s picnic!
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28