Did you ever spend your summers at camp? Maybe a Scout camp, maybe a Christian camp, maybe some other kind, but can you recall the smell of the woods and bug spray? Musty cabins or canvas tents? Campfire smoke and roasting marshmallows? Do you remember making new friends? Or what it felt like to spend time away in a new and unfamiliar place? Can you recall staring up into the heavens and being overcome with awe at the vastness and beauty of the night sky?
My high school summers always included one week in the Poconos at I.Y.P.C. (Interdenominational Young People’s Conference). Though it was largely Methodists and Baptists, the group was an interesting blend of progressive theology and evangelical spirituality and worship. We sang Christian camp songs, we had different faith-focused classes in the afternoon, and we canoed and hiked and had campfires every night. But by far, my favorite part was a time called “tryst.”
While a tryst is usually thought of as a secret meeting between lovers, they emphasized that here it was really just a special meeting with an appointed time and place between us and God. It was a time in the late afternoon where we gathered in an area of the woods or down by the lakeside and then would spread out with a blanket and spend about thirty minutes just… hanging out with God. We might read the Bible, or journal, or reflect on the written devotional guide we were given. But it was a time in nature, a time alone, a time for reflection and prayer and self-examination. It impacted me, as a young person, as no other experience had. It was there that I felt affirmed, at peace, comforted and empowered.
I wish that in our adult life there was more of this intentional meeting time with God. More of the peace and sustaining comfort that comes with it. How can we better set aside time and place to go spend quality time with God?
This August, after I return from vacation, I am inviting you to share in the camp experience with me. We will have three weeks of camp themed worship services! Come, be a kid again- remember the joys of camp and reflect on the lessons that can be gleaned from our time together — at camp! See you there!
~ Pastor Abbie Huff