Dear First Church Friends,
Going to Summer Camp!
This week our church sent six young people to summer camp in Leesburg, FL. The Warren W. Willis camp has been providing spiritual growth and fun for youth throughout Florida since 1948! It is so fantastic that our youth are able to go and enjoy this beautiful, enriching place.
As we were preparing the youth for this adventure, I found myself thinking back to my own years in summer camp. As a youth I attended a camp on the campus of Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas. It was during that experience that I had the opportunity to preach a sermon to my peers at one of the evening worship services. Already in high school I knew that I wanted to pursue pastoral ministry as a vocation. The adult leaders at the camp knew that and asked me to preach at the evening service.
I remember what I wore on that night in the summer of 1990. I remember the room where worship was held. I remember my friends who were sitting on the front row in support. I remember that I talked too fast and went on far too long (that won’t be hard for any of you to believe)! It was a significant evening for a young person about to go to college and enter, in earnest, the journey toward fulfilling a childhood dream.
I don’t know if any of the young people we send to summer camp will eventually become pastors. I do not doubt that God has a strong call on each of their lives and that this call will be lived out in a variety of ways. Ultimately, each of us is called to live into the dream and purpose God has for our lives. As we have learned over the last weeks in studying Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, God’s dreams for us are abundant and not easily broken. Each of us is called to serve God and humanity by using our special gifts and abilities.
I want to encourage you to take a moment to consider a time in your life when someone encouraged you to grow in your gifts. Are you a musician? A teacher? Are you good with numbers or are you known for your gifts in hospitality? Who encouraged you and gave you opportunities to shine? Take a moment to give thanks for that person today.
I also want to issue this challenge. Consider how you are intentionally encouraging a young person to fulfill their God-given gifts. Can you identify someone in your professional field that could use some encouragement and support? Can you identify a young person in our church who could be mentored or encouraged in discerning God’s gifts in them, and how they will be used? Each of us is not only called by God for a great purpose in this world but we are called to nurture those around us to live into God’s vision for their lives too. Won’t we share together in this awesome task?
We continue our series in Genesis and Exodus this month. I encourage you to read Genesis 37-45 this week and next to enjoy the amazing story of Joseph – his faithfulness in distress and his eventual forgiveness and reunion with his brothers. It has been a joy for me to re-read this portion of scripture and I encourage you to do the same.
God be with you and see you in worship!