Proper 13 Pent 8C                                    July 31, 2022                                     Camp Linn Haven

In order to save space on my phone, I have all my photos uploaded to the cloud to my OneDrive account. 

Each day I get a teaser e-mail that says, “your memories from this day.” 

and as I reviewed these emails this week a lot of them were from or camp. 

Including one of a flooded bridge. 

I was surprised to see that it was from nine years ago, in 2013. 

It looked just like the ones I took in recent years.

and I realized that even though we notice improvements from year to year, camp is pretty much the same as it always has been. 

I think that is the appeal of camp. 

In the midst of our ever changing world, camp is a place of reliable stasis. 

Not only that, but there is a certain sense of solidarity, if not a camaraderie built upon these shared experiences. 

We eat the same food together.

We stay in cabins that are all about the same. 

We visit the same attractions and hike similar paths. 

And we've done it for generations.

Even our songbook is at least 30 years old. 

It's just too hard to teach everyone a new set of songs when we are here for only one week. 

And yet, I think we would all agree, that all those all of those, individually, are not why we come to camp each year. 

We can get better food elsewhere. 

We can travel to more interesting and exotic locations. 

We can stay in better accommodations. 

And most of our families get together at other times of the year in addition to this week at camp. 

So then so there has to be something else to it.

I believe that part of it is that when you are here you are forced to be present, here, not elsewhere, in your mind, body, and spirit. 

The everyday is left behind 

as we climb into the hills and the temperature drops. 

The hustle and bustle of the Interstate is replaced by the two lane windy roads. 

Constant connectivity is replaced with spotty cell coverage and overloaded Wi-Fi. 

But it's more than the location, it's the setting. 

Peaceful, tranquil, quiet, cool, and, at times, very wet! 

But it is also a place where we openly and freely embrace God as our creator, Redeemer, and sanctifier. 

And of course there is quality time which comes when you have nothing better to do, 

except sit on a swing. 

Or play a game of tennis or volleyball. 

Or work together on a puzzle on a rainy afternoon. 

And I hope it's a place where you can find time and space for prayer.

 Unrushed and unencumbered by your daily routine 

and renewed by the word made available at our daily Bible studies.

I think our readings for this eighth Sunday in Pentecost speak well to us here at camp. 

In Ecclesiastes the writer tells us that in everything we do to enjoy it for what it is. 

Not to do it for future gain, glory, or greed. 

But instead, to give God glory because of his generosity in providing it to you 

and to enjoy each blessing as they come to you. 

Likewise, Paul says to seek things that are above. 

Namely, Christ, who was raised up from the grave. 

And to shun the base and vulgar pleasures that the world offers 

as we await our eventual renewal reward with Jesus in heaven. 

And Jesus in the Gospel uses a parable to explain that, despite our own plans for a prosperous future of our own making, it can be taken in an instant. 

Perhaps by sudden death, as in the parable. 

But perhaps through financial ruin from a failed business or a market collapse. 

Or, perhaps a moral failure which leads to a ruin reputation, 

preventing you to move forward with your plans for life. 

Perhaps making you lose the trust and love of those near you. 

Or, worst of all, leading you to lose faith, 

despairing of your situation, 

and separating yourself from God's love forever.

In each of these tests texts, the whole point is this: to stave off disaster and to turn your focus from this world to the Kingdom of God. 

While God gives us many worldly things that we enjoy, 

they are a blessing given to those he loves. 

They are neither an entitlement to those in his creation, 

nor are they the object and end result of a life well lived. 

When it says in Ecclesiastes to, “eat, drink, and find enjoyment in his toil.” 

it is not a way to rationalize excess or gluttony. 

But, rather, it is an exercise in living in the moment in the manner enabled by God, so that we give him glory. 

So that, while our feasting and drinking and merriment maybe more than physically necessary to sustain us, 

its abundance might demonstrate and remind us of God's bountiful love and desire to show us his favor for work well done. 

And, when done by the faithful, feasting is even a sign of our trust in God. 

Because we are so confident in his love for us we do not hoard his bounty, 

but instead, use it as he intends for us to use it. 

And when there is surplus, to enjoy it in his presence.

Perhaps that might be the gauge to know whether or not our actions give glory to God. 

Would our feasting or our celebrations, or our spending, 

be something Jesus might share and enjoy with us? 

Or, is it something that would shame us were he there with us? 

Is it something that would build up the Kingdom, or tear it down? 

Does it give us opportunity to give God glory or does it only glorify us, and our selfish desires?

And these aren't always easy discussions to have.

One time someone questioned how Jesus and his disciples could allow a woman to use expensive ointment on his head. 

Yet, it was customary to wash and oil dirty road-weary feet of a guest 

in addition to putting oil in their hair 

to help them comb out the dust and dirt that had accumulated there 

when a bat full bath was not available. 

But her ointment was fragrant and expensive and could have been sold at a great price and given to the poor, in order to help them live. 

But Jesus said, “you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.” 

at that moment in her life, it was important to give glory to Jesus. 

She was drawn to him, his teaching, and his forgiveness. 

And she wanted to do more than what a regular servant of the house was expected to do. 

She was anointing him as someone special, 

and all would see and smell her efforts. 

And so her simple act of generosity would also become her testimonial of faith.

This week you and I have an opportunity to make this year at camp even more special then it always has been. 

In addition to celebrating the uniqueness of our gathering in this place, how about each of us find away to, “seek the things that are above.” 

perhaps it's your personal walk in faith and your relationship with God?

 Maybe you can commit to attending our daily Bible study to get closer to him. 

Or, maybe it's focused prayer for a need or trouble you are facing in life? 

And by focusing on prayer each day

you might be prepared to receive God's answer. 

Perhaps God is calling you to step up your participation, or support, with a certain ministry in your life? 

Maybe it's a sizeable gift.

 Or, perhaps you are meant to donate time, or to work on a committee, or to serve in another way. 

Maybe God wants you to take a position of leadership at your church, or in your community in some way? 

Or, maybe God is calling you to step up in a bigger way to reach out to your family and close friends, 

so that they too have saving faith in Jesus. 

So that you won't have to wonder for the rest of your days whether or not your child or grandchild will be in heaven with you. 

Or, whether that good friend or coworker is bound for eternal pain and suffering separated from God.

And this is where this life apart from the world is so different from camp. 

Camp can be as passive an experience as you want it to be. 

But setting our sights on things that are above is more arduous. 

If we are to heed the calling of Christ and scriptures, being set apart and living a life that is extraordinarily his, is hard work. 

But he promises that you will not only survive it, but be blessed by it. 

Like a trip up Grandfather Mountain gives you sore muscles and a few scrapes and itches, 

it also offers 

wonderful views, 

the best ham sandwich you've ever eaten in your life, 

and an ice cream cone at the end. 

So too, so too does a walk with Jesus, seeking the higher things, lead to a great reward,

not only in our enjoyment of living in his Kingdom here on earth, 

but in the eternal Kingdom which awaits us on the last day.

I pray that each of us this week may not only enjoy the uniqueness of camp Linn Haven and the separation it provides us from our hectic lives, 

but that each of us may also elevate our experience in the serenity that God provides, 

so that this week would also be a week of elevated living in his presence, 

and lived to his glory, and not our own. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.