Good morning, everyone!
On Friday we had a chance to explore the city a bit before we gathered with our Synod for our “Proclaim Story” Day.
We arrived downtown around 8:20 and slipped into worship with several hundred of our new friends. After receiving communion and a great message from a local pastor, we spent some more time around Cobo Hall checking out the interactive learning center.
When 11:00 rolled around, we decided to head out for an early lunch, which we found at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Greektown. We all enjoyed a great meal, and then headed back to Cobo. On the way, we made a quick stop at the GM Building (also known as the Renaissance Center) to check out a new Corvette and a Silverado pickup.
Proclaim Story was our opportunity to gather as a Synod to explore how our individual stories are woven into God’s Story revealed in Scripture. We made personal time lines of high and low points in our lives, heard the story of the healing of a paralyzed man from three different perspectives, and placed ourselves into the story by imagining how we have been like various people in the narrative.
At 4:00, our guys wanted to do some work to help out the community, so they headed to the Lutheran Campus Ministry build site in Cobo Center to help frame walls that will become part of new homes around the city.
Then it was time to make the walk to Ford Field for Mass Gathering. It was busy downtown with the Tigers in town and scheduled to play a game against the Orioles beginning at 7:08, but we all got along together and made it to the Field. Once inside, we grabbed dinner at a concession stand and climbed up to the second deck for a different view of the evening’s festivities.
Tonight’s speakers included:
Rani Abdulmasih, a Palestinian Christian pastor serving two Arabic – speaking congregations in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, which boasts the largest population of people of Arab descent outside the Mideast. Pr. Abdulmasih talked to us about the need to be bridge-builders in our communities, using the “dynamite” of the Gospel to break down barriers that divide.
Sarah Funkhouser, who served in Israel – Palestine with the Young Adults In Global Mission program of the ELCA. She spoke about how seeing God through the eyes of others helps to expand our vision of who God is for us and for the world.
Steve Jerbi, a pastor in Milwaukee who spoke of the tragedy surrounding the racially-motivated murder of a 12 year old boy in his congregation, the call to name the evil of racism, and the power of Jesus’ presence and name to transform us and our world.
The powerful speakers were surpassed only by the amazing music that we heard throughout the evening. It started with *Agape, a Lutheran – Christian rap/hip-hop artist. It continued with Royal Tailor, an eclectic band that brought songs of praise to the arena.
None of that could have prepared us for what came near the end of the evening. The highlight of the night was a surprise performance by the Motown All-Stars, a group made up of four Motown legends – original members of the Temptations, the Miracles, and the Capitols.
The place was absolutely nuts as thousands danced and sang along to classic Motown hits from the Temptations, Diana Ross, and the Jackson Five. All of us agreed that it was an incredible experience that we’re not likely to forget.
The Mass Gathering ended with a stirring performance calling us to reach out in love and bridge the gaps that divide us from one another. During the song, hundreds of people descended to the floor carrying lighted orbs that eventually formed a powerful image in the midst of the crowd.
Once the Mass Gathering was done, the party wasn’t over. We poured into the streets and followed the route to our buses that had been prepared for us. With most of the streets we walked closed down for our trip through downtown, we basically had a huge party in the streets, a party joined by fans and residents who sang and cheered and danced with us as we made our way toward the Detroit Riverfront. It was a lot of fun!
Great devotions closed out our day, and we went to sleep looking forward to a whole day of proclaiming Community at Cobo Center and our final evening Mass Gathering.