Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
1 Peter 4:9
The crowd late Wednesday afternoon on Robins Field between North Madison and North Church streets in Tupelo was large enough to attract attention and loud enough that even passersby in cars could hear laughter -dominated behavior.
A long queue of people led to a large charcoal grill near which were stacked hundreds of thick, cooked hamburgers and hot dogs. People walked away from serving tables with piled-high plates and headed for big coolers filled with iced water bottles and soft drinks.
The event was attended by several hundred people, and everybody was allowed to be themselves, including perfect strangers from the nearby neighborhoods drawn by aromas, sounds and a stunning, bright-colored hot-air balloon.
In former times it would have been called a church social, but in the hands of ministers and laity from First United Methodist, First Presbyterian and All Saints Episcopal churches it was the 2013 Festival on the Field.
Most of the people there sweated some because it was in the 90s when it started, but long shadows soon crept across the former home of Tupelo Golden Wave football games, cooling the surroundings. More than anything, people greeted one another in a sense of larger community, with friends from across the three congregations visiting and talking with one another while they listened to squeals of thrilled children – and some adults – rising in a controlled ascent in Frank Anger’s balloon.
The Festival on the Field further amplifies the strength in commonly held values, beliefs and connections in Tupelo – part of our city’s better nature too often diminished by loud voices of another kind.
Words spoken with conviction said it was worth doing again in 2014.
In sum, participants had experienced a biblical practice without sanctimony or conflict.
The 1st Letter to Peter in the New Testament urges, “Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”