Gathering Together…At the Fair

Note:  This blog post was first published in the “Pastor’s Perspective” column in the Owatonna People’s Press, August 18, 2018

Perhaps this is true for you too:  Today, if I step outside and I listen very closely, I can hear it.  Even though it’s a couple of miles away, I can hear sounds of the Steele County Free Fair from my house.  It’s the distant echo of the bands playing…or the roar of engines from tractor pulls…

And if I breathe deeply, I’m pretty sure I can smell the odors of the fair.  Ok, maybe that’s just in my imagination.  But still, in my mind, I can smell the corn dogs, mini donuts…well…really, I’m probably just imagining the smell of the grease.

The fact is, for these six days, the fair permeates our community.  It is what people do, it’s what they talk about and it’s where they go.  When our family relocated to Owatonna four years ago and I took on my role as pastor at Trinity, literally one of the first things I was told was “don’t ever try to schedule a meeting at church during the fair.”  Really?  Yes, really.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:23-25.

The fair is the time that our community gathers to lift up and celebrate what is good in life.  We gather to watch people share their gifts and talents on the stages.  We gather to eat.  We see what people have created in the arts.  We eat.  We visit the exhibit booths and see what is new in our community.  We eat.  We play games.  We eat.  We see old friends and make new ones.  And we eat.  In my experience, fair week is probably the one time in our community that we all gather together, regardless of age, culture, faith and ethnicity.  We all gather.

The fair reminds me that for these six days, God draws us together into a single community; one that can laugh together, spur each other on towards love and good deeds, encouraging each other, talking together and playing together.

People of faith understand that this is God’s call for us for not six, but for 365 days of the year.  God calls us to be together in community every day.  This week we can be reminded that that we are a community that supports and encourages each other and celebrates all that we have been given.  We can take the spirit of community that we experience this week, and work to carry it forward throughout the year.

This week makes me wonder: what if every day could be like the fair?  I’d love to talk about it more if you’d like.  You can find me this week hanging out in Fair Square, near the corn dog stand.

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