“Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you?”
(Psalm 85:6, NRSV)
By now, you have undoubtedly heard of the revitalization effort taking place in our Milan community that goes by the name of Milan Main Street. While its principal focus is on the revitalization of the Milan downtown, proper, its benefits extend to the entire Milan business corridor and even more importantly to the very extents of community life. Many very visible positive changes have recently come about because of the energies and commitment of numerous talented and dedicated people here in Milan who want to see our community thrive. These include: the removal of some blighted buildings, paint and other façade uplifts on Main Street, a number of new businesses opening, the multi-million-dollar renovation of the East Main block, Let’s Chill Winter Fest, Bloom, The Crooked Tree Play Festival, and most recently, 3rd Thursdays. What is incredibly encouraging is that Milan Main Street is just getting started. I strongly encourage you to consider if you might have something to offer this grass-roots initiative, perhaps in ideas, skills, or simply a little time.
But what I want to specifically focus on here, is 3rd Thursdays and Marble’s embrace of the project. 3rd Thursdays replaces the weekly Tolan Square Farmer’s Market with a once-a-month focused event engaging every business/organization in the downtown to give our residents & visitors great reasons to come down and bring family and friends to spend a few hours having fun and supporting the downtown economy; and as you might have guessed, this takes place on the 3rd Thursday of the month. We, here at Marble, have seized this opportunity to reach out to our local community and show that the hands and feet of Christ are alive and indeed in this place. There have only been two 3rd Thursday events so far this year, yet each demonstrated a level of success beyond any of our expectations. The 3rd Thursday in July incorporated a “Kid’s Zone” at our end of the street (the “coolest” area of the whole downtown due to all the shade trees we have.) Many organizations contributed including carnival games, a snow cone truck, piñatas, and Marble’s contributions of countless lawn games and our signature free ice cream and popcorn. So many of you are coming out to lend a hand here and there, and are making our participation in 3rd Thursdays not only a success, but the makings of a thriving and life transforming ministry. Awesome!
What is even more exciting, is that Milan Main Street and 3rd Thursdays is only one part of the revitalization efforts taking place in our community. As you also know, we are in the very early stages of working with our United Methodist Michigan Conference to learn and grow toward revitalization right here as a local church congregation—aptly named the Vital Church Initiative or VCI. And just like Main Street, getting started in our Vital Church Initiative, as in any revitalization effort, surfaces many questions and brings the need for lots of conversation and sharing. And so to that end, we will be scheduling a number of conversation opportunities in the next few weeks that I hope everyone will take advantage of. Because, your thoughts, inputs, concerns, and most of all dreams, are vital toward our success as a local church.
One closing thought around revitalization. In many ways, I believe the Bible is the definitive text aimed at revitalization. It is filled, from cover to cover, with countless examples of how God entered into a “less than ideal” world and/or situation, and led God’s people thru a process of remembering the real—Gospel—roots from which they came, of understanding the new directions to which they needed to turn, and of actively pursuing those directions which are uniquely capable of delivering on the vital and thriving life that God-in-Christ promises and intends for us. It is for this reason that I absolutely believe that revitalization is not only God’s unmistakable way, but is God’s command for God’s people to embrace and receive. And with God as our Reviver, we will come to know rejoicing as we have never known before. What a journey to be on together!
May your embrace and excitement for God’s desired revitalization grow within you, and God’s reviving love, grace, and blessing always be upon you … Pastor Bob