Last week was the Massillon week of community at Living Water church. It was a beautiful seven days of excitement starting Sunday morning where I was able to share Living Water’s heart to honor our communities. It was followed that afternoon with Trunk or Treat with two trunks (or should I say a hay wagon and a ATV in mid-launch).
Later that week we passed out flyers for the tailgate. Friday night, twenty crazy people jumped on that same hay wagon as we hosted a float in the "Beat McKinley" parade. The rain did not stop the energy from the volunteers spilling over to the attendees! Twenty more people showed up to help for the Living Water Tailgate the next day. Oh, and Wayne Harrold was painting the ceiling of the campus during the tailgate! It was a beautiful and exhausting week. I am spent in the best way possible. Ray Jeske, co-owner of ESPN 990 played a huge role in instigating this crazy week and he wrote about his side of the experience:
Living Water did something crazy and beautiful. Living Water built a float, and joined the Massillon Tigers parade -- a float on which there were actual grills with actual fire in them while rolling. Actual fire to cook actual hot dogs. Hot dogs given out on the parade route -- to Tigers.
I saw the set-up, the hard work, the sacrifice necessary to make it happen, not only in the Friday parade but also in the ambitious tailgate party Living Water hosted the next morning, despite the difficult cold and rainy weather they had to endure. Free hot dogs, donuts, cookies, snack foods, coffee, soft drinks, music and joy were all on the menu.
And I saw something really instructive for all of us. I saw pastors leading by example, with the hardest working, earliest to arrive and last to leave - being pastors Mark and Nathan. Dealing with the stress. Fighting through the challenges. Leading by example. Showing what it looks like. Working their butts (to use the biblical term) off.And I saw what love looks like.
Years ago a Chinese geography professor coined a term: Topophilia. The term describes the affectionate bond people have for a place. The people of Massilllon have topophilia for their town, for their Tiger town. Hence the beautiful craziness.
The people of Living Water have affection for Dalton, where they live. But they also have a growing affection for Massillon, a place where others live. A place where Jesus is calling them. But how do you explain loving a town you do not live in?
For God had so much topophilia for the world, including Ohio's towns, that he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believed in Him, would have eternal life.
Every town is crazy and beautiful in its own way. The town in which you live, and some towns where you and your church do not yet live, are towns of God's topophilia.
And the leadership and love needed to bring Jesus to them will look like the same thing: it will look like a church, a church marked by sacrifice and joyful hard work. It will look like -- in its own unique way -- Living Water.
Thank you Mark, John, Nathan and everyone at Living Water for showing us what it looks like to be the Gospel in a place, and in a new place. You are an inspiration.
I couldn’t have said it better. We have topophilia for Massillon and WE showed it this week. We will continue to invest in this great community because we live here and we will learn to REDEEM our communities by first HONORING our communities.
I wanted to thank over 50 different volunteers that helped this week. You know who you are and you rock! I love that we get to be the church together. A big thank you to ESPN 990, Starbucks, Buehlers, Shearers, and Sugar Mama’s for donating and making these events awesome.
You can read Ray’s full letter HERE