Monday morning, did you really have to come today? Wait, I guess it did. After all, Monday always follow Sunday and yesterday was Sunday. I know it was Sunday because I had the opportunity to worship with 40+ youth and adults at Camp Wartburg. I didn't have the pleasure of worshiping with my friends and family at St. Paul's, Troy but that didn't change the fact that I did have the pleasure of worshiping with 11 members of St. Paul's, 3 members of Bethlehem Ferrin, as well as members of Edwardsville, Sparta, Murphysboro, Waterloo, Belleville, Greenville and maybe another congregation or two (depending on where the camp counselors attend worship). What a pleasure it was to worship at Camp Wartburg. The weather tried to stop the worship. Just as we all gathered in the outdoor worship area at the camp, the rains came. At first, just a light rain and then heavier. It was crying, "Stop this worship!" To which we responded, "NO!" Moving up the hill to the pavilion, the praise team of Sparta went from electric to acoustic, and we were dry and able to worship the Lord. It was a great morning for worship.
And I thought, as the rains came down, about Dean Mafereka of South Africa telling us about the problems that they have when it rains. The metal roofs make it so loud that they have trouble hearing what is being said. They have no PA system (neither did we). But the roof on the pavilion didn't make so much noise that we couldn't hear the Word of God.
At that moment, I gave thanks to the Lord for being able to share the Word of God with the campers at the SID Junior High Retreat. They could hear the Word. The rains came and they could hear! It isn't that way around the world. In fact, in many areas of the world, they are not able to gather to hear the Word of God without fear for their life. The biggest fear we had was...I am not sure that we had a big fear. Maybe a spider crawling across a table or the person next to us singing off key with "Good Morning God." No, we had no fears about worship. There were probably a lot of fears in the hearts of each person that was there on Sunday but it wasn't about what would happen if we gather for worship.
Rejoice in the Lord always! That was part of the epistle reading. So we rejoiced in the Lord. Fix your eyes upon Jesus. That was the theme. So we fixed our eyes upon Jesus. Clothed in the garments of righteousness given in the waters of Baptism, we gathered at the Feast of the Lord, even as the Gospel reading told us. (No, there was no communion as these were Junior High students who hadn't been confirmed yet. And the Feast was there - in the Word! Too often we forget that the Word is powerful and elevate the Lord's Supper above the other Means of Grace. But that is a whole different line of thinking than this blog puts forward.)
It was a great weekend. I give thanks for being able to take 10 youth and Penny with me to this Retreat. I pray that they grew in their faith. I know I did. I also grew in my relationship with them. I give thanks for St. Paul's, Troy making it possible for this to happen.
Now, on to the new week. Rejoice in the Lord always. And fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.