Reflections From Festivalling With My PoMo Peers

Originally uploaded by smh00a.

Like I mentioned Monday, I spent Sunday at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, TX, one of this country’s great emerging cities. This year’s festival had all the makings of greatness: 108-degree temperature Sunday, some of the best bands in the world, and thousands of sweaty people kicking up egregious amounts of dust.

It rocked.

My brother (this was his birthday present) and I watched Tristan Prettyman, Rilo Kiley, The Decembrists, Wilco, Jason Mraz, Franz Ferdinand, and, in the best show imaginable, Coldplay. The Brit band’s appearance was hands-down the biggest event in ACL history — and they made every moment count. From sing-along renditions of “Yellow” and “The Scientist” to a tribute song for Johnny Cash called “Till Kingdom Come” (which they followed with their own rendition of “Ring of Fire”!) to the show-stopping finale song off of X & Y, “Fix You.” It was so worth the heat, the dust, the sweat.

It hit me, however, people-watching during the Wilco show. The pungent smell of marijuana desensitizing my nostrils, my peers lost in the music, lost in their communities of friends and festival-goers, lost in the whole atmosphere. You see, ACL (and Bonnaroo, and Burning Man, and many other festivals nowadays) is a safe place to be yourself, to express yourself, to enjoy the community of others, to enjoy the beauty of art. The Burning Man project claims one of its purposes is “radical self-reliance”, but I don’t believe it — these festivals are all about leaning on others. They are about community.

You see, I couldn’t help but think about how in the world my fellow ACL-goers would ever hear the good news about a different way of life, a kingdom that has come on earth (as it is in heaven), a hope for eternity with a loving savior. To them, Christianity is a joke. It’s a big-haired woman on channel 51, a hypocritical (yet judgmental) co-worker, a finger wagging in their faces, a hand behind their heads rubbing their noses in sins they didn’t even know they were committing.

You see, if I thought we couldn’t afford to keep doing the same, old “Christian thing” before Sunday, I am shouting it now. We’ve got to wake up and see an entire generation that will never darken one of our churches (as they currently are) or call themselves a Christian (as it currently is perceived). We need a paradigm shift. We need words that will be gospel to this entire generation, my peers. “Jesus is the Son of God” or “Jesus Died on the Cross for My Sins” just won’t cut it — they’ve heard it. We need to advertise (and begin living out, for crying out loud) a new way of life, the new order Christ ushered in with his coming. We need to begin living out life together with a community of believers into which we would actually want to invite others. As I mentioned Monday, this community has to look and live differently than it has — no more games, masks, separation, division, bickering, nominalism, sideline spectatorship, or idols.

We need to strip all that mess away and gather around Jesus Christ, who modeled the kingdom life for us. If we pray for God to transform us into this, I believe he may send us a few sweaty, pierced, searching festival-goers, and maybe — just maybe — they will see something a little different in us.

And like it.


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