Ties that Bind

vespersThe ties that bind can sometimes just be thin threads, but other times they are bonds forged in steel. Each week I spend at Wakon Da-Ho I find evidences of both. Counselors who were recruited by those who counseled them. Someone saw something special in them and issued an invitation to share it with today's youth. Camp friendships that anxiously await reuniting year after year because other than social media and texting…this is the only time of the year they are face-to-face.

Each morning we gather in vespers with the morning sun drawing the mists off the surface of the ponds while the birds and bullfrogs protest our entry into their solitude. We watch the morning together and await God's words to us for the day. We marvel at the beauty of our surroundings and seek solace from those who gather here with us. The trees form a canopy of protection over our heads, their branches and leaves absorbing the laughter, tears, songs and prayers of the years. Some days it will gently rain above our heads but no drops make their way to our heads. We can see the little ripples they create on the surface of the pond and hear their gentle descent, but remain dry thanks to the protection of the trees that surround us. Other days, long after a rain has left a gentle breeze will stir the leaves and send a sprinkle down upon our heads while the rest of our world remains dry. It is a magic that is unique to Wakon Da-Ho. When it happens you can see the wonder on the faces of the youth who gather here and know this is one more instance that will forever tie their hearts to this geographical location.

Sometimes threads wend and weave themselves tenuously through the years. Youth and counselors have come and gone throughout the 40 or 50 years we've hosted camp in Casey County. Sometimes adults will take brief respites from the camp program, but return because they love it as much as the children and youth who gather here do. This year a new thread from time past wrapped itself around me and tied me forever to the story. One of Paris' children, now grown with children of her own made her way into one of the stories of Jesus' healing. Our stories cross through the roots that spread deep and wide beneath the soil of Wakon Da-Ho. Her healing and my healing have both come through the efforts of the same individual…and through our encounters with Christ at Wakon Da-Ho.

I've heard parishioners say for years how they come to worship each Sunday because they need an injection to get them through the week. I think I return to these people and to Wakon Da-Ho each summer for much the same reason. I often find healing when I didn't realize there was injury. I find acceptance, grace and joy when I didn't know I craved them. I reunite with old friends I only see face-to-face once a year, but with whom I long to share a week of camp chaos because no other can understand the magic and mystery of the place and its people like those I share my memories and healing with once or twice a year.

Blessings,
Tracy

Observations & experiences…

holy spirit

The temperature was 50 degrees this morning.

The unusual mid-July “chill” is refreshing. A neighbor out walking spoke his approval. The mail person was surely appreciative. The windows in my car were rolled down and I dropped a hand into the wind as I drove.

The humidity is low. The sky is a bright blue. Someone asked, “Is this a record?”

We are often met with pleasant surprises and we are challenged to pay attention. The true joy in life is gathering in these observations and experiences and appreciating them.

Have you noticed the flowers around the front sign, placed there from the flowers sold at cost to the youth for a fundraiser, by Bourbon County’s own Color Point?

There is the field of sunflowers on the Caldwell farm, the sudden and intense summer showers and youth returning from camp with tears of joy in their eyes.

There are the 100 or so people who looked for Gerry McMillen’s niece’s dog after an accident and found him near Cullman, Alabama.

There is a new Methodist minister in town that I look forward to meeting.

Members of Operation Food Basket are rising to the challenges which are facing us and volunteering to do a number of tasks.

There is a member of our church running for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky.

Did you catch the lightening bugs in late June and early July?

Have you noticed the refreshing breeze created by the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing through your life?

Moving to the deeper places,
Jeff

trying to get it right…

church

I have had some experiences in the church.

Listen for a moment and see if you do not agree that we deal with the most interesting and complicated human drama that exists and still find ways to love each other. (None of these situations happened at First Christian in Paris).

There was a church staff member overheard to say, “I am not a sinner,” after a sermon where I had mentioned that we are all sinners saved by the grace of God.

I was moving to a new church. We had used liquor boxes to move. The back seat was full of them. I didn’t know my new congregation. An older lady peered into my backseat with a disapproving look on her face. I thought, “Oh, no! Here we go.” Then she said with a look of disgust on her face, “Not my brand.”

At my first church I was asked to step out while they voted whether to call me as their pastor. Soon, an elder came out, clasped my hand and with great sincerity and warmth said,  “Congratulations young man. You won by one vote.”

There was a woman, who, if we had talked about such things, we would not have agreed on much of anything socially or politically, but her pure love for children, has them still talking about her twenty-five years later after they have all become adults. She would say, “I love you so good.”

There was the church where the attendance was below 100, where we tried to find a chair of the Board. We asked 13 people before someone accepted. It was the staff member who said, “I am not a sinner.”

As a young pastor, I had an idea. The grizzled war veteran grilled me with questions about cost, manpower and goals. After the meeting two very kind and gracious women in the group apologized for his demeanor and his challenges. I pointed out, “He was the one to make the motion. The rest of you were just going to let me do ‘whatever the new young pastor wanted to do.’” That man made us own our decision. (Still he could be a bit gruff in his “ways.”)

In honoring a Sunday school teacher who had been teaching for 35 years, I made the side observation to a trusted elder, “We let someone teach our children who had not been a Sunday school class member for 35 years.” It was a statement about how the church sometimes abuses its volunteers and does not allow them time to rest and grow spiritually.

The church is an interesting place where we are trying to get it right, but, inevitably, are caught in the twilight zone of being not sure whether we did or not.

Moving to the deeper places,
Jeff

VBS and Missions

cwslogo-2012a

This year, we will be collecting school supplies as part of our mission efforts throughout Vacation Bible School. Because mission always begins at home, we will be donating locally to our own community school systems, through our Stuff the Bus program, as well as to Church World Service’s School Kit project.  

School Kits give children in impoverished schools, refugee camps, or other difficult settings some of the basic tools for learning. Our efforts to educate the next generation assures our world that we are preparing individuals to have the knowledge and skills necessary to lead the future. Providing such supplies alleviates anxiety for parents struggling to make ends meet and lets families know we care. Our giving as an act of faith shares the love of Christ with those in need and tells the world we are grateful to God for being so richly blessed and take seriously our call to be a blessing to others.

Local schools supply lists can be found at Wal-Mart. Church World Service Kits need these specific items:

  • Children’s Safety Scissors
  • Three 70-count spiral notebooks or notebooks totaling 200-210 pages (no loose-leaf or filler paper)
  • One 30-centimeter ruler (12")
  • One hand-held pencil sharpener
  • One large eraser
  • Six new pencils with erasers
  •  One box of 24 crayons (only 24)

paws_logoIn the past, we have given generously to our local PAWS Program. Many of our families have adopted pets from PAWS and rely on this organization to contribute to the safety and well-being of animals in our community. Their needs continue to grow. Here is a list of items we will be collecting this week for PAWS:

  • Towels, Flat Sheets, Blankets
  • Newspapers
  • Heavy Duty Trash Bags
  • Grooming Tools
  • Digital Camera
  •  Rubbermaid Containers
  • Heating pads and microwavable disks
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Collars and Leashes
  • Premium Brand Dog and Puppy Dry Food
  •  Dog and Puppy Wet Food
  • Toys that are durable/washable
  • Treats
  • Cat beds
  •  Stretch and Scratch pads
  • Stainless Steel food/water bowls
  • KMR Kitten Milk Replacement Powder
  • Litter

Each evening as we gather for Vacation Bible School, we will provide an opportunity for children to bring forward their offerings for our mission projects. Choose whichever project is closest to your heart or give to both.

The amount we give is never the issue…it is THAT we give which is most important.

Blessings,
Tracy

Discover the Temple!

Solomon's Temple

Join us this Sunday, July 6th, for worship where we’ll kick off our Vacation Bible School week. Come see how we’ve transformed our sanctuary into Solomon’s Temple. (Sorry Folks! The Small Sanctuary will not be available.) Watch our elders process the Ark of the Covenant in for placement into the Holy of Holies. Catch the excitement as we get ready to open our doors to the community and share the love of Jesus with all who enter here.

VBS is here and we’re still in need of volunteers. We need help on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. with set-up; we need a few organized individuals to be there early each day to help register newcomers and help them feel welcomed; we need hands in the kitchen for meal prep/clean-up each night; we need fun-loving individuals to spend time singing songs, making crafts, playing games, sharing God’s love and learning together to lead all the children who come through our doors to all the different activities we have planned and we need amateur actors and actresses to bring our stories to life each day.

VBS will begin each day with a light, kid-friendly meal. After fueling up for the day, we’ll process into the sanctuary to learn some great songs and old favorites. We’ll hear each day’s story then separate out by age groups for games, crafts and more music. We’ll end each evening in Fellowship Hall with a snack to reinforce the day’s lessons and send one another out with God’s love.

Thursday, July 3rd, at 5:30 p.m. we will offer a brief training session for VBS Volunteers. Join us for a quick run-through of how VBS will flow, how we will seek to keep all children safe while having a good time and what we seek to teach while sharing our time together. Your efforts are needed to help make our week a success.

Blessings,
Tracy

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