“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
I have been reading old letters from our camp. In preparing our most recent newsletter, which should go out this week, I thought it would be fun to read through the words of those who have gone before. We discovered several file folders buried in our records during some winter cleaning we’ve been doing. Unsurprisingly these letters are filed with classic pastor humor and church-jokes that are a funny hallmark of our Christian culture. There are also references to people and places that I’ve only ever heard referenced by those that were attending and leading camps almost 50 years ago. And though much of these dusty and moldy old paper leaflets and newsletters is lost on me - I walked away with one strong impression: there is serious beauty in our unity.
Our days are currently filled with so much pessimism, frustration, fear, and constant quibbling that it can be hard to be hopeful. It seems like for many of us this consternation can be our default starting position.
But in one of my favorite passages the Scriptures it pretty clear that we are called to come together in love - and when we are united in that posture we will discover a beauty that exceeds all that we can know and even understand.
Yes, the enthusiasm of our early camp and church leaders may seem unequal to the task of confronting the issues of today. But while there is a rising population in our community that relegates these dreamers to a quaint and forgotten era when things were less complicated - I’m not one of them. I think that in days as dark as these - we need more ambitious dreamers not less. We need a more cooperative spirit that seeks others to collaborate with.
When I read the early letters of this camp I see people cut from this cloth. I see men and women excited to embark on an adventure of collective effort to bring praise to our Father and to unify our churches in His name. When I see this I want to do all I can to help us realize this same reality in our generation. I know that our churches are drifting apart both from forces within and without. And many from my generation fail to see what many before us have seen - that we are beautiful when we are united.
What God does, is doing, and has always done in His Church throughout the world - we see in a small sliver right here at the camp in the valley.
I get it - Getting together can be messy. Sometimes when we get together our relationships can get strained, our expectations go unmet, or people and plans disappoint. But for all that - its still worth it. I thank God that our board and staff here at Pleasant Valley shares in a vision that sees the value in still meeting together. We want this place to be a catalyst for an ever growing knowledge, as we gather with all the saints, of the depth and height and breadth of the love of God.
Your friend in the wilderness,