What an incredible experience this Tuesday evening: the campfire lit at the end of a super soggy rain-filled day. Songs of praise, fun, belonging and joy. Deep laughter and exuberance. I was at the Camp d’Action Biblique near Richmond, QC feeling the vibes in chapel worship and then the campfire at United Spirit Camp Esprit Unie.
Wonderful moments. Incredible stories. Deep bonding.
There is a campfire song from my youth:
It only takes a spark
to get a fire going,
and soon all those around
can warm up in its glowing:
That’s how it is with God’s love,
once you’ve experienced it:
You spread God’s love to everyone,
you want to pass it on.
(Kurt Kaiser, 1969, VU 289)
Have you heard the questions: where have our youth gone? Why are they not in church? Where is the next generation?
We all live the constant of change. Each generation can tell the following the things that evolved in machinery, food production, communication. In a lifetime there is so much that is different. We all have stories in our families of grandparents, great great Uncles and Aunts telling of the struggles of their youth, of the Great Depression or times of War. Remember the two dollar bill, the penny? I learned the internet and the power of smart phones as an adult; new generations learn this from birth.
Faith creates sparks and songs or rituals that are adapted for different ages. Faith lives church and hope around a United Spirit Camp Esprit Unie campfire where almost one hundred people: counsellors, adults, 66 children and youth sing a benediction. Do they see in the flames what Moses saw in the burning bush: the presence of the Holy, the Unexplainable, the Mystery of Life and Interconnectedness (Exodus 3)? Do they hear the voice of God, the great I AM, of Jesus and Spirit in the incarnation of faith in the lives of leaders giving the incalculable hours, talents and enthusiasm that lets camping happen? Do they feel the Spirit of celebration and belonging, the same that was present at their baptism years before? Camp experience is filled with the Holy, the Presence of Jesus and of Spirit! Do our youth see, hear and feel? Yes they do!!!
I had the joy of being with the six Emmanuel campers: Logan, Nolan, Elisha, Beauty, Peter and Esther and also the great pleasure of affectionate hugs from both Georgia and Theo whom I knew at SouthWest. I took a selfie like Georgia did when she was baptised at age 16, including the circle of friends around the campfire. Can it get better than this?
This was lovely, simple, heartfelt and inspiring. I was blessed to be a part of these moments, as are these youth to be part of this transformational week.
Where are our youth?
Around the campfire bonding with God, Jesus and friends.
Where are they next week?
Telling the stories of this life-changing experience.
What will we do?
Listen to their joy, their songs and let the their sparks of enthusiasm ignite the flame within us and our communities of faith!
This is change church needs: letting our youth lead us into the bonding of the campfire and Spirit flame in our midst! Flame that consumes the unnecessary and glows bright as a beacon for all to see. It only takes a spark: pass it on!