Last week was one of our yearly meeting's high school camps. I got to attend as a worship facilitator, and my husband came and took care of our son. It was a great week of hanging out on the coast, getting to focus on helping high schoolers connect with God, and reconnecting with youth and adults I care about deeply.
Surfside is unique in that there is no evening speaker. (Maybe in unprogrammed Friends circles that's not so unique...?) The worship facilitators listen to God about what the whole worship time should look like, and then try to lead it that way, trying to get out of the way so God can work. This was my second year leading worship at Surfside. It's a lot of work--planning half an hour in the mornings and an hour and a half in the evenings every day--but it's good work, and it's fun and inspiring to see God working as we plan and as we lead. It's one of the places where I appreciate "programmed Friends" the most, because we do intentionally listen to God as we plan, allowing God to guide what we decide to do, and paying attention to God in the moment as we lead, being willing to change plans when necessary. It's harder to do that in programmed worship services each week, somehow, but for Surfside it seems to work.
This year the theme for Surfside was "Pursuing the Passion." The focus was on the fact that God's pursuing us, wanting to be in relationship with us, and we're pursuing God. God works in and through the passions we already have, and gives us new passions that help others. Here's what the week looked like:
Monday night: God pursuing people throughout history, looking at the historical community of the Hebrew Testament, connecting that community and that story to our lives today.
Tuesday night: God's pursuit led to God choosing to take on human form in the person of Jesus. We have the option of turning around and facing God's pursuit (repentance means to turn around).
Wednesday night: Jesus' passion--our word passion comes from the Greek word meaning "suffering," and when we follow God our passion will lead us into suffering. We read the story of Jesus' death and ended there for the night.
Thursday night: Not only do we experience Jesus' crucifixion but also his resurrection and new life. Our God-given passions will include frequent death and resurrection components. Our passions aren't just for ourselves, but to alleviate the suffering of others, to understand their suffering as Jesus understands ours.
Friday night: Sending out into the world, offering God what we have even though it's not enough, letting God do the rest.
We tried to do something experiential each night, something where everyone got to either do something physical as a symbol of what they'd learned, or use their imagination to interact with God.
In the mornings we had a counselor share about something they're passionate about and connected it with the story in Luke 10 about someone asking Jesus what the greatest commandment is. The man answered correctly: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." Then Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, asking who it was that was the true neighbor to the injured man. So we had counselors share about something they're passionate about, how it connects with their entire self (heart, soul, mind, strength), and how it shows love to their neighbors.
We also had a staff person share an answer to a question generated by some of the youth. We talked about how part of pursuing God passionately is asking good questions and thinking well about our faith. Even though we can't adequately answer all questions in life, it's good to think about them and to seek a better understanding of God, intellectually, emotionally and intuitively.
It was a privilege and a joy to be able to be part of this camp.
At the same time, one of the things I noticed about myself is that I spend so much time doing stuff like this that I hardly ever have time to go do anything outside my own community. I wonder if that's OK--is that my role? Am I a discipler rather than one who goes out? Or am I just hiding within the community, doing things that are safe and fun, although they take a lot of work and "suffering" in the form of lack of sleep and such? Is it enough to create a worship experience where youth can connect with God in ways they can understand, or is there more I should be doing that would reach out to those who, for example, can't afford to go to camp? I know what I'm doing is good, but are there even better ways I could be spending my time?
That's what came to mind for me personally while at camp.