How do I even begin to process what it is like to spend Easter at Occidental Square?
It is truly one of those opportunities that you can only fully experience--but for those of you who are wondering and asking the question of what does it look like to live out the Kingdom of God, I will try to describe. Of course, this is only my slice of the experience, the other hundreds of people present would describe another piece of the pie.
It's a journey to go to Occidental Square. This year we got the permit approval in early February. Getting a permit to feed the poor is almost impossible these days as last year the mayor and city council shut it down. But, they left the door open for holidays, so we could go for Easter. We celebrated as Occidental Square represents our life as a missional faith community.
This year we felt the Lord called us to be present on the 5 Sundays through Lent to pray for what God wanted to do on Easter. Each week different teams of people went, each time getting confirmation that God was really HAPPY that we would be coming as his sent presence into the world. All of our pictures of the day included sun, and we were given the gift of a dry, rainless day.
What is Occidental Square like?
It's a big concrete park with totem poles. It is in the historic district of Seattle called Pioneer Square. It's often filled with homeless people passing away the day. But, just as many tourists come to take pictures of the totem poles and seek it out as one of the suggested places to visit in the tourism brochure. In the summer, different groups come to perform and hang out on the square, and restaurants spill over onto it. Shoppers cross through it from one area to another. So, the population can be very diverse--a representation of the different walks of life: poor and rich.
Why does Missio Lux feel drawn to Occidental Square?
Lots of reasons, but one of the main ones is that this is the land that Seattle first started on and so it represents the origin of Seattle. It also has the population of the greatest poor and disenfranchised surrounding it; I know of 5 shelters within a block of every direction, so it helps us to fulfill Jesus' call to care for his beloved ones, the poor.
What do we do when we come?
Eat. Play. Serve. Pray. Befriend. Worship and Celebrate. We don't come just to serve a meal to some homeless people. We get in line with them and then share lunch together to follow Jesus' directive in Luke 14 to go into the highways and biways to find the forgotten and lost.
It made me so happy this year to see how many Missio Lux families and how many of the poor became one over a meal at a simple table. Conversation is becoming more natural and connected as we continue to come.
Many remember us and genuinely look forward to our coming. They wish we would come more often: (so do we, wish we could!). Peace comes over the Square in tangible ways. This year a man named Dreamer said that he was feeling really agitated all morning but when he stepped onto the Square, he was filled with peace and he could feel the entire atmosphere shift.
We had a focused celebration time this year. We worshipped by singing, through giving testimony~our friend, Larry Larsen came and told about how he was dead and now he is alive! We explored the Scripture of Jesus' resurrecting Lazarus to proclaim that he was Lord over even death, and that just days later Jesus himself would not stay in the grave, but he, too, would LIVE!
We also invited a young 17 year old with an evangelistic call on his life to speak. The reason we invited Joshua was that he is the great, great, great, grandson of David Denny, the founder of Seattle.
David Denny's dream was to see Seattle truly become a City on a Hill--a Christian community. He didn't see that dream realized but perhaps Joshua, his descendent will. That is our prayer in Missio Lux. . . We believe that God is busy at work restoring his creation to his original purposes and that we as his people get to be part of it.
okay, tomororow more personal stories of Occidental Square. Would love to hear from more of you....blog away!