Sunday, June 21, 2009

Midnight Sun Festival

Fairbanks is adorable. The largest one day event in the state was fun. And small. But sweet. Almost like the People's Fair but with much more ado and much less to do. I got a fantastic frozen banana. The protein, serotonin boost, and fruit serving make me a good mama. Buying one for my hubby makes me a good wife. Finishing his because he didn't like it makes me a responsible consumer (or something).

Tonight we're going to the Midnight Sun Baseball game, which I thought was yesterday. I'm excited to take our seats and enjoy the 104th playing of a baseball game through the midnight hour, outside, with no artificial lights. Apparently this game has NEVER been canceled due to lack of light.

Bit of trivia for you: Fairbanks does not have a 'longest day of the year'. For three days every June the sun neither rises nor sets so those three days are all 24 hours long.

Alaskans apparently really love to party and enjoy these three days. Last night was the Midnight Sun Fun Run (which we missed due to exhaustion!) and people were in great costumes and loving life. I still find it hilarious that the state that produced Sarah Palin also celebrates the solstice with such vigor, but I'm coming to realize it's all a part of Alaska. People are intensely (almost aggressively) independent. They vote how they want to, and 'because we have guns' their representatives vote according to the will of the masses as well.

Someone told me before I moved up here that part of Fairbanks' charm is that everyone here loves and wants to be here. It's a town you really either love or hate and if you hate it, you leave. So everyone here really wants to be here and really enjoys it. That makes this place a lot of fun. I agree. People are genuinely glad to be here, and genuinely glad to share their favorite place with you. People are welcoming and warm and chatty and I feel wonderfully at home here. I'm almost sad to thing of us having to leave in 3 years. Already!

Searching for Symbolism:
This morning the church we tried appeared to be not happening today. It was supposed to take place on the state fairgrounds, but we didn't see anyone around that part of the fairgrounds and the rest of the grounds were being used by a horse show (!!!) so we're thinking maybe church was canceled this week. On our defeated drive home we decided to see when the service was at the LCMS church and it was starting in a few minutes so we went to that service instead. We walk in and are greeted by some really warm people who chatted with us (like so many Alaskans do) and as we got ready to go into the sanctuary Mirus sees someone he knows. Yeah, right. Sure you do. Maybe it's someone you've seen at work. No, no, I know her from a long time ago. OK dear. We go over near her (ostensibly to get coffee) and overhear her mention Colorado Springs. She spots my hubby, and drops her conversation to give him a big hug. Turns out, she was good friends with his family when they were kids. The LCMS world is a very, very small world indeed.
Her name is the same as a wonderful friend of ours in Denver. Her blonde haired oldest son has the same name as our friend's blonde haired oldest son. The church was called Zion, and I have always found God in Zion National Park. These are probably cheesy coincidences, but sometimes those turn out to be big flags to which I should have paid attention.
People were really friendly, there were lots of people 'like us', and I liked the pastor who taught. Like most churches, the sermon seemed watered down in comparison to L2, but I've acutally never seen a church that studied as in-depth as L2 does, at least not in the main sermon. This church would be really easy to plug into, and we would be able to walk there, it's really just down the street.

But we haven't had much luck with LCMS churches viewing their mission the way we view the mission of the church. Denominational (and nondenominational-attractional) churches in general tend to believe their mission is centerered around getting people INto the church and and keeping them there. We wholeheartedly believe that a church's purpose is to send people OUT to be Christ in the world. Yes, community is important, and fellowship, and spending time in the Word and with others, but all of those are meant to SUPPORT your mission to the rest of your life, not supplant it. It can also be intensely frustrating for me to feel that everyone in the church assumes a certain view point. That sort of stagnant belief (spiritually, socially, and politcally) is so infuriating. Voting Republican because that's what 'good Christians' do is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Or more than that, it's wrong. It's not just annoying, it's actually wrong. And denominational churches (read: LCMS churches) tend to breed that sort of stagnancy.

Maybe it's worth another try. Mirus and I will have to chat.

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