I’m gonna come out and say it: I love camping and I think church camps are especially good experiences. Church camp is fun and always a formative experience for the kids involved. The endless night of games and running around, the feeling of being part of a pack of kids, the excitement of discovering a playground in the woods, building you own super sketchy rope swing as a bunch of 5 year olds…all that good stuff sinks in deep.
During one of the evenings at our recent camp at French Beach I was hanging out with the kids while the adults did grown up things. At one point the adults were singing and Thomas, my two and half year old son, turned excitedly to me and said
“Happy Birthday Party, where’s cake?”
“No cake” I said.
I could see the wheels turning and suddenly a huge smile flashed on his face “It’s Church! It’s Church! Papa.” In his mind there are two places to sing: birthday parties and church; and he is equally happy with either one.
He was right that we were a church. We didn’t have a building, or at least not one with walls but we were huddling together in the name of Christ. We were sharing meals and laughter, they were singing praises to God, they were praying together, they were reading the bible and asking questions about it and how it applies to their lives. We were sharing communal stories of camps and campers long past. We were helping each other out and being vulnerable with each other. I realized we were being a church, even if only for a weekend.
A couple of weeks prior to the camping trip I experienced the same sense of a beautiful ephemeral church body. I spent a week in Montreal with some colleagues and each day rotated around a chapel service, they were calm, meditative affairs, and during them we became a church. We prayed and shared, laughed, drank, ate, goofed off, spoke tenderly to each other about the trials and tribulations of being a minister in God’s church today. We were being a church, loving each other and loving God.
Sometimes a church is a very temporary gathering, but that doesn’t make it less a church to those present. This coming weekend our church will hook on to at least 6 other churches in the Cowichan Valley. Our doors will be closed and our church will be gathering downtown. What a good reminder that the church isn’t the building but the people! There is no question our congregation is a church, every day, not just Sundays, but to host an event like this is a clear symbol to all involved: the church is the people praising God, loving God, loving each other, loving their neighbours, singing loudly, laughing and crying. If you happen to see our closed doors, don’t worry our church is as alive and well as ever, and if you happen to see us gathered downtown this Sunday, yes we are Church.
This Sunday July 19th we will gather in the town square for an ecumenical worship service at 10 am.
The August long weekend we will be camping at Rathtrevor as a Presbytery. Call the office for details.