Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â It was a cold and windy day for November 1st but many people were there early setting up their booths for the annual Fall Festival in Zephyr Park. Struggling against strong gusts of wind local businesses, churches, political candidates, health advocates, crafters and boy scouts arranged their wares under their canopies.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â New Hope sponsored a booth offering CD’s, DVD’s, books and a whole raft of the booklets written by Pastor Don. We had a bucket full of candy for the children to enjoy and two baskets of items that passersby could sign up for a chance to win. Our banners were proudly hung to identify our church. The musical groups were gathering to take turns supplying the festive music for the day.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â After the opening prayer from the stage for a successful festival, the music began. The first song of the day was â€œSheltered in the arms of Godâ€ and a vocal group singing â€œAmazing Graceâ€ followed by a bell ringing chorus.
Crowds of people showed up all through the day defying the early fall chill bringing children, dogs on leashes and even one dog with his own doggie stroller. Friends greeted friends, bags were filled with assorted items from the various booths and the atmosphere was one of fun and fellowship.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The sounds of â€œWe’ll fly away â€¦.â€ rang out across the park as another group sang familiar hymns.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The teenagers challenged the wooden swing to see how many could swing at on it at once and tried their luck at the trivia game. Boy Scouts were one of many vendors selling food, and were doing a rushing business at lunchtime selling hot dogs and hamburgers.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A new group of singers sang â€œWe bring the Sacrifice of Praiseâ€ and at various intervals a short sermon was given to remind the festival goers that Jesus loves them. Then another group would take the stage and their songs would spread across the park â€¦â€Stand up, Stand up for Jesusâ€
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Toward the end of the day I took a short break from the booth to just sit and watch and listen to this gathering of people, amazed that Christian churches, Christian singers were free to sing, set up booths to distribute Christian literature, all of them showing their dedication to spreading God’s word in a public place. No one opposed the atmosphere (or if they did, they left). I wondered how long before this activity would be forbidden, how soon would it be before the churches and the singers are no longer invited and only the businesses would be allowed to participate in this community gathering.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Sitting there, I enjoyed the warm feeling of fellowship, friendship and the sharing of values with this multitude of people. Praise God for our religious freedom.