So this past weekend I attended the Bele Chere Festival in Asheville, NC. What a trip! If you don’t care for hippies don’t go it’s hippyville for sure. Hippies aren’t bad though, its good to have diversity. But, this weekend I experienced just what the title says. The festival name means ‘a good life’. Isn’t that truly what every person is in search of …..a good life?? There is music on 5 stages, crafts and art galore and people everywhere in this place. I saw stoned people, drunk people, normal people, young people, hopeless people, religious people, witchcraft people, new age people, old people, and on it could go. Basically I saw people of all sorts yet all made in the image of God.
On one corner you could get your palm read or have a tarot card reading. On another corner you could buy a beer bracelet from a witches coven or from the AME church located in Asheville. On yet another street corner there was a christian standing on a soapbox (two step ladder) reading every condemning scripture he could in KJV with his 2 ft poster of an aborted baby is propped up against the soapbox all the while some very angry young people stood in front of him. One guy help up a sign that said “Teach your children to worship satan” and another stood directly in front of the street preacher flipping him the bird. Of course the preacher had about 4 ‘body guards’ around him and the cops close at hand.
OK here is your disclosure………if you have a religious spirit about yourself you probably won’t like the rest of my post and of course the fact that the AME church made money off selling beer bracelets all weekend has already pissed you off but it’s not going to get any gentler so I just want to warn you before you continue on.
Where was Jesus in all of this??? Well he wasn’t necessarily in the street preacher’s actions. Did Jesus go around pointing out everybody’s sins when he was here on the earth. Did he intentionally go to festivals he knew would be buck wild just to condemn the people he came in contact with? NO. I don’t think Jesus would have his little 2 ft abortion poster or 8 foot cross the next day on the corner. There was NO LOVE NO GOOD LIFE being preached NO GOOD NEWS. There was plenty of fault finding and condemnation. The guy holding the poster about satan wasn’t being obnoxious at all just stood there. The guy flipping the bird was quite vocal …….he probably has been hurt or rejected by christians in the past. The longer he stood there with his middle finger as high up in the face of the preacher the more angry one of “body guards” got. His face was red he was all swelled up and getting more offended with every passing moment. Let’s get one thing straight. Yes it has a derogatory connotation but IT”S JUST A FINGER! There were people everywhere there this weekend who do truly NEED the real JESUS. Jesus would be loving people, he would let them see that they are loved and accepted by God thru HIM no matter who they are or what they’ve done. He would show them a good life without being stoned out of your mind everyday of your life. He would let them experience the loving touch of the Father by healing their bodies, touching their broken hearts, listening to them. He would care, give grace, extend mercy.
The palm readers and tarot card readers didn’t yell out at me when I walked by because I didn’t come in and give them any attention. The witches coven people weren’t hateful letting me know how much I had disappointed anyone because of my failures or shortcomings. It was sadly only the Christians on the corner picking the bible apart to backup what they thought was right. And sadly enough these christian men think they are doing something honorable for God. He doesn’t need us to do something FOR Him he needs us to correctly represent him. I saw the grace of God so evident in the people that passed by. Why do I say I saw the grace of God? How else can you explain people so blistered on drugs having not a clue what is really going on around them yet they have lived to be 30 yrs old? How can you explain the other religions and spiritualists living to be in their 40’s and 50’s? That’s the grace of God. That’s God giving them time to see and experience the real Jesus or at least that’s how I see it.
It was so easy and seemed natural for the street preachers to call out sins like drunkenness, partying, witchcraft, or homosexuality. Why is it so hard to call out our own lack of love toward people, our judgemental attitudes, are failure to extend the grace and mercy we have been given? Does Asheville need Jesus ? Yes, just like I do. The church bodies of Asheville would be better off to rent tent space and provide a place in the shade for hot attenders, maybe a drink of free water, a chair to take a load off their feet, a freebie for the kids and actually really look people in the eyes and connect with them where they are. Who know a chance to pray for someone’s needs may have been given. That would have more impact than the harm created by fault finding.
Jerk chicken on a stick. It’s pretty much amazing. Now on to Jammin’.
Jammin’ in the streets with a percussion band is fun. No doubt about it. It’s about 10pm the cops make them shut down the mics on stage and the band takes to the streets with hundreds following after them and before them. Old and young dancing in the streets for blocks. The scene made me think of King David when he was bringing the Ark of the Covenant God’s presence back to his hometown. David was dancing in the streets in his skivvies even. I was fully clothed and so was everyone else except one topless chic we saw. These people were carrying on for no real reason just to do it. David danced because the visible presence of the Lord had returned. It made me so hungry to see all the lost, hurting, hopeless, emotionally dead, religious even people come to know my King for real. When you taste of Him it’s satisfying. When you drink of HIM it quenches. When he takes away your sin which is exactly what Jesus does it’s so overwhelming. John the Baptist preceded Jesus and said when he comes it’s to take away the sin of the world not point it out. When people see and experience that they will be dancing in streets making up a new song before the Lord and it will look like chaos. I can’t wait to see that here on earth. I don’t want to wait till we get to heaven. I want people all over to experience this and I want to see worship taken to the streets each person in their own way expressing their gratitude to a faithful King’s unbelievable love.
I want to see the real kingdom of God be brought to earth. I want to experience pandamonium over the incredible flood of God’s spirit extended to every person and hope birthed in the hearts of all. For joy to break out into the streets and envelope whole communities with such love and peace that the heartbroken come in and find rest.