I thought about that line from the email for several days. Easter is a celebration, one that we often meet through somber reflection. But I wanted to celebrate this year. The same day that I received the email, I found at that, as Hope and Anchor Community Church, we were going to spend Good Friday reaching out for Camden. What actually ensued was much better.
On Friday, we set out our large church banners on each of the corners of the Camden High Street so that all of the people exiting Camden Town Underground Station couldn't miss us. We brought drums, a sound system, stilts and face painting, and people began stopping to talk to us. We stayed outside until nighttime, celebrating in the streets. It felt a bit weird to be celebrating on Good Friday, the day most people commemorate Jesus dying on the Cross. But He died for the people of Camden, and they need to know, so we danced and sang with the people who stopped. And many of them stopped and stayed with us for several hours, chatting to different people and joining in when we all danced to Mary Mary's "Shackles."
Camden Town Community Choir singing to draw the crowds and spread joy
The musicians singing covers
Chris meeting people where they are
Melo painting faces
Federico made a new friend whilst drumming
On Saturday, we visited Camden Stables Market with flyers to invite people to our Sunday celebration. We combed the stalls, inviting tourists and stall workers alike. Then we went handed out food to the homeless and needy by Camden Town Station again, and our group was so large that we managed to send out a team to the alleys where we know the homeless normally congregate.
This couple asked the girls, "Who is this Jesus we keep hearing about? Is he around here?"
Henrik kept cars from hitting this man as he sat drunkenly in the street
Finally, on Sunday, after our service (at which we met many of our friends from Friday and Saturday again), we hit the streets to invite people to the barbecue and film-viewing that we were having. A lot of the more rough-and-tumble Camden crowd came, and as I looked up and down Greenland Street during the barbecue, I was delighted by the diversity. There was everyone from an 89-year-old Irish woman with her shopping trolley to two men who got stuck in the punk scene of the 90s, from the homeless to the families passing by. I love moments like that, where I look around at our church and see a snapshot of our city.
Camden Town Community Choir performed in church
Resurrection Sunday worship
Inviting people to our barbecue
In case they didn't look up to see the barbecue
Part of our eclectic bunch
Some new friends with Federico
Our barbecue in the streets of Camden
This weekend was a weekend of joy. And when I observed the people that gathered with us, I realised that joy attracts lonely people. So many of them started appearing at the fringes of our group on the streets, and the person nearest them would turn around and pull them in. And isn't that part of what Jesus came to do? He saved us, yes. He gave us family. And still today, He is calling the lonely to Himself, from the streets of Camden to wherever you are living right now. It was such a joy to get to welcome the lonely home.