We arrived home last night from Family Camp. It was a great week. Here are a few reasons for our appreciation:
1) Simple. Things were reduced. Our accommodations were limited to a 12' by 16' cabin with an outdoor dining area. Our breakfasts and lunches were spartan yet sufficient. We didn't take along a lot of techno gear - only cell phones. This stripped down life was lighter, freeing. Less interested in stuff, carrying it, keeping it, protecting it, putting it, running it. It freed us to see and interact with . . .
2) People. One key component of family camp is the encouragement to spend time with your family and other families. Outside our door and right beside our picnic table was a line of three picnic tables where our neighbors gathered to enjoy their meals and host a band from Spring Arbor University. Conversations were in the air and if you had to leave a subject for a minute or a day, the conversation hung around so you could pick it up again. We were able to interact with people that we hadn't seen in a while and people we may not see until next year. Good, sharing, kind people. We were also able to interact with people from our church family, share ice cream, a cup of coffee, a meal and in these interactions we laughed, told stories, and heard one another.
3) Worship. The kids were blessed to be a part of a Vacation Bible School help in the morning with another program in the night that was rockin'. Anna, Kyrie and I took in the evening worship services. We were blessed to worship among our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. Out of worship flowed a sweet spirit of peace and blessing. A culmination of the worship was Thursday night when a lady who has been around the camp for years was Baptized and we all shared in the Table of Jesus with communion. Rebbecca found the welcome of Jesus and we all shared in His gifts to us and the world. Rebbecca is not alone in finding new life or fresh life in Christ, as our evangelist quoted CS Lewis, many at camp drew closer Jesus from the places where they come from.
4) Playing. Integral to camp is hilarity, as Marva Dawn calls it in her book on Romans 12, of playing games. Softball, basketball, painting in the craft room, pushing kids on the swings, riding bikes and 4 wheeler's. Bursting forth from study & worship is a profound trust and rest in the goodness of God for our care, this freedom in Christ enables and emboldens our play. The community that worships across the age ranges makes space for 7 year olds to play basketball with aging pastors and high schoolers who are at the top of their game. I blogged earlier that Moses, Asa and I played in the three on three tournament. We learned the next day that because of how the brackets fell, we came in 4th, out of 8 or 9 teams. That was due to grace.
5) Hope, Love and Grace. Surrounding, upholding, permeating camp is the very real presence of hope, love and grace. These words which can at times be thrown about do have real essence, a real body. At camp there is a tactile Hope where the community is hoping, for the best, praying for the best, living Hope. Love is necessary as an ingredient, for the solitary existence isn't achievable and how does on keep harmony in such tight quarters - one must give up claims of self interest and ease - from the presence of sand in places where we'd rather not have sand, to moving in and around cabins with no thought of staying off the grass of your neighbor's lawn - there's no lawn. Grace - there's room to be you, from sharing your reading interests, to displaying your latest tattoo, to an open invitation to the table for ice cream, to helping a neighbor, grace takes form in the interactions.
6) Nature. Northern Michigan has an immense beauty that is difficult not to hymn. Its land contours are varied, its soil composotion pleasant beneath the feet, while the temperatures were cool, the sun and wind combined to brighten the smiles on peoples faces. Of profound joy was watching baby red tail hawks try to discern what was food and what wasn't.
7) Missional. At the close of the service on Thursday Rev. Cromwell, the Evangelist, asked a question I've often asked at the end of Communion: "Has everyone been served?" (see Luke 14.15-25) I've often asked the question looking out across those assembled to see if anyone still wants to come and receive. He asked the question and he saw beyond the people in that space, he answered his own question this way: "No, everyone has not been served. The world out there, beyond this camp, is waiting to receive the life of Christ." So we go, we leave camp, we return to our homes. Our home last night felt like a 5 star hotel compared to the spartan cabin with its daily bologna sandwiches. While space has expanded it is my prayer that the other attributes of family camp also expand - faith, hope, grace, love - may the life of Jesus expand in this place, and the community of Jesus which is hearty like a good loaf of bread become a living reality at the place we call "home." May the world around us be welcome at the table of Jesus, on piece of sand, in a carpeted room, or in the places we call sanctuaries.