My son Brendan planned a soccer birthday party for last Saturday. This was a great idea because we live in Germantown and the park we know and love is Fernhill Park and it has big fields that are perfect for soccer.
But it rained. And it was windy. So we needed shelter, which was fine because there’s shelter in Fernhill Park.
But, well, this is the shelter:
As the day went on and the rain continued, I didn’t know what to do. Should I invite a bunch of children here, to this place? Would that be inappropriate? Should we cancel the party? Could we reject the shelter and just brave the rain and the wind? I called my pastor, Julie, to talk it over. We came to no conclusion, except, generally, that we both love Northwest Philly and Fernhill Park. I mulled it over and decided to go ahead and use the pavilion. I could put into action something we often say to one another in our church: resist and restore.
We resisted the oppressive nature of the graffiti. We lit a fire. We roasted marshmallows. We sipped hot cider and hot cocoa. We played soccer. We sang Happy Birthday. We restored the promise of the park and the potential of the pavilion.
As the party went on the sky cleared and the sun peeked through. This was good because I going straight from Fernhill to my other favorite Germantown Park—the Wissahickon Creek. I wanted to be with the church to witness a different kind of “birth”day: baptism. Two friends in our church were baptized Saturday afternoon. We gathered together by the creek to hear their stories and to celebrate new life in Jesus.
Both celebrations at both parks were simple and good. I got to be with a community of people living in a real place, in real time, trying to work out what it means to go with Jesus as he resists and restores.
-Aubrey White, writing