LIVING THE QUESTIONS NOW
by Pastor Marissa Sotos
When I’ve thought about Tree of Life Lutheran these past weeks, a quote keeps floating into my mind, “You are so young, so before all beginning….” Before all beginning, yes that’s exactly it: Tree of Life is dreams, prayers, conversations, relationships, ideas and potential. Those are all wonderful pieces for a new worshipping community, but sometimes they’re a bit intangible.
Today I looked up the quotation. It’s from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and continues, “You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved…and to try to love the questions themselves…. Live the questions now.” Having a Friendraiser was a perfect way to love and live the questions, starting to make tangible what this new church will look like.
Good questions are at the heart of the Friendraiser experience, and not just during the event itself. One of the first things I noticed when I met Midtown’s Matthew Fitzgerald was that he asks really good questions. He made me stop and think and ponder, and I knew that when we got a room full of people that pondering would turn into some wonderful creativity.
Sure enough, Matthew got everyone thinking outside the box right away by asking them to figure out a surefire plan to turn everyone against Tree of Life. As a pastor it was a little alarming to watch because people were on it: from building a Ponzi scheme to straight up murdering people. Thankfully, when asked to reverse the brainstorming and get people to support Tree of Life the creative edge was still there! I especially love the answers people drew. They ranged from fairly concrete: Friends + Food + Singing and music= Church, to the slightly more eclectic: people on Segways + pine trees + Pikachu + a nurse’s station = Church, to abstract art such as “A Laying on of Ears,” which while a wonderful image for really listening to one another’s stories, is a little unnerving when represented as a paper covered in floating ears.
By the end of our two hours we had a whole wall of ideas for Tree of Life. They include people to partner with, places to get involved in the neighborhood, ways people experience God and connection with their community, and of course a healthy debate about worship styles. (“Music should not suck” was a recommendation everyone could get behind.)
All those ideas came from people talking together who might never have been in the same room if it wasn’t for Midtown. People from a variety of church backgrounds, or no church background at all, were thinking together about what church could be right now in the North Loop of Minneapolis. Midtown’s format and hosting made that easy and fun, letting everyone know they had a say and something valuable to contribute.
With good questions, good people and good hosts we got just past “before all beginning.” Together we started to live the questions.
After each Friendraiser, the Midtown team designs an eBook with pictures, quotes, and, of course, ideas from the event. Check out the eBook for Tree of Life.