Rain settled in for several hours this morning, chilling the day's beginnings to a considerable extent. I have no idea what time it ended(all appointments on two wheels were postponed and I slept), but in this corner of the world where corn is "money in the bank," it couldn't have come at a more opportune time. This is the weekend of Brookings locally famous "Arts Festival." What began(Arts in the Park)back around 1972 as a quaint gathering of local arts and crafts folks has now reached out and grown to include 80,000 people from across America. The food, fun and the "for sale" creations have outgrown the park so if you want to see all of it you have to travel the city side to side and end to end. Well, there goes another twenty minutes out of your day. Seriously, though, if you have the time and can stop in you will not be disappointed at the amazing array of treasures waiting to be procured. Personally, I go to watch and photograph the people. This is the biggest gathering in the area and holds endless possibilities for the shutter bug in all of us.
The other draw, one that caters to my more culinary side, is the vendors of new and exotic dishes drawn from the melange of ethnic diversity that is America. It's great! And then there is the inspiration that this gathering brings to one another's lives. You can actually watch the imaginations as they are spurred by each new individuals creative efforts. I would imagine that through the years many have given birth to a new "vision" right here in rural South Dakota. Last but not least is the gathering for worship on Sunday morning, which brings together those who have faith. A gathering that can only be described as totally without recognizable denominational influence takes place each year. This is an inspired byproduct of the festival and gives all of us an opportunity to share in worship that is open to everyone. My thoughts on this run strongly in the direction of this being how God wants His people to come together. You don't have to dress a certain way or feel guilty about the offering plates(or your singing voice)just come and give thanks and praise. Hailing from homes separated by distances you can ascertain from the license plates, vehicles of every imaginable configuration have brought their owners to this place for one morning of worship and fellowship. The gathering is mostly vendors, but the past few years there seem to be quite a few locals coming to share this feeling of spiritual unity in the midst of the diversity that exemplifies God's initiative in the "Great Commission." There is a unique warmth and comradery that usually pervades any and all gatherings of artistically inclined believers, and this Sunday will be no exception. It's a moment to look around and recognize that we truly are much more alike than we are different, and that is how God created us to be, even out here on the plains of the Great American Desert. In Christ's Love, Preacher.