Nothing is Lost to the Eyes of God

 

Photo: "Eye of God" by Tarthiev on deviantART.

Photo: “Eye of God” by Tarthiev on deviantART.

My eyes were watery, my nose was itchy, and I had a pungent taste in my mouth. Close to 200 structures were gone, just 150 miles away – many of them homes of players my basketball team had played against. How quickly a wild fire can decimate a community is almost unimaginable.

Families and friends, tourists and business travelers… in an instant their lives are ended all because they flew over a war zone.

Rockets and artillery volleyed from one community to the other in a war that never seems to end – a conflict multiple generations old.

In the middle of the night, men storm into your home. Your options? Change the faith tradition of your heritage, pay a hefty fee, or flee with the clothes on your back.

The world you know is controlled by vicious gangs that constantly threaten your very existence. You believe your only option for the future of your children is to send them on an unfathomable journey to illegally enter another country, all with the hope of a better life.

Natural disasters, cultural wars, religious wars, and just mere survival seem to be very tenuous in increasingly more places in the world.

My prayers seem to be endless, as does my desire to push for a hopeful holy response from all God’s people.

In such trying times I am grateful for Paul’s letter to the Romans:

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And the words from Colin Gibson’s song “Nothing is Lost”:

Nothing is lost to the eyes of God,
nothing is lost for ever;
God sees with love and that love will remain,
holding the world for ever.
No journey too far, no distance too great,
no valley of darkness too blinding;
No creature too humble, no child too small,
for God to be seeking, and finding.

EYE 2014

 

I was an extremely young youth minister. In fact, my half a dozen or so high school traveling companions were only a couple years younger than me. It was a hot summer day and we were literally standing out in the middle of nowhere in eastern Oregon waiting to catch a train. Our destination? The first Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) which was being held at the University of Illinois.

Every three of the last thirty years I have been blessed to be a part of EYE. This last week, as many of you noticed (and commented on) the Facebook and Twitter posts, I was fortunate once again to be with over 1000 folks in Philadelphia for the recent installment of EYE. And now I’ve shared this incredible experience with the phenomenal group of young people and dedicated adults from ECMN!

Both the worship and music were excellent. The program with its missional focus was great. But, as always for me, the transformative element of the experience was the coming together of a diverse community of young people and their leaders from all over The Episcopal Church. It truly is the embodiment of the rich, comprehensive depth of diversity which encompasses who we are as Episcopalians. And seeing a young person experience that for the first time in their life is, in my mind, what makes this triennial gathering not only incredible, but critical.

The reality is that the vast majority of Episcopalians have lived out most of their faith journey in less than three Episcopal churches. This demographic is great for building community, tradition, and deep roots. Yet it is critical for us to never forget that at the core of our identity as Episcopalians and Anglicans, we are big tent people – our brothers and sisters come from a wide range of cultures and contexts. Still, all are called to use their God-given gifts to engage in God’s mission in the world.

The young people, as well as the adults in attendance, left Philadelphia as transformed children of God. They are acutely more aware and appreciative of the diversity of their Episcopal family, and without a doubt they are feeling emboldened to use their gifts for ministry to meet the world’s needs.

 

Update on Cass Lake Episcopal Camp

CLEC Chapel in 1979, Photo Credit: CLEC Facebook Page

CLEC Chapel, 1979, Photo Credit: CLEC Facebook page

Recently I wrote the following post for the Cass Lake Episcopal Camp (CLEC) Facebook page, and was encouraged to share it more broadly.

As most of you know, my life was transformed through my time at camp. I met and married the love of my life at camp. Both of our sons grew up and now work at camps. Some of my longest and dearest friends are folks from camp. Every year I am fortunate to spend time at a number of Episcopal camps. All this is to say I understand both your love and concern for CLEC.

Over the last four years there have been a significant number of conversations both about CLEC and camping ministry in ECMN.

The focus of these conversations has been on program, people, and place. A major part of the findings of these discussions is that there are a number of people who have never had a camping experience (the reality is there are now two, almost three, generations of young people who have not been to CLEC). The good news is that there is significant interest in some sort of camping experience. However, the vast majority are unwilling to drive more than two hours from the Twin Cities.

With this in mind, a subsequent group of folks began to explore alternative sites to host a camping ministry. During this time, it was suggested we build on the very successful Episcopal Youth Music Camp (EYMC). A group of folks began to run with this idea and I am happy to let you know that there is now a plan to offer an additional week of camping at the sight where EYMC takes place. The future forecast is this: Middle School Camp in 2015; adding High School Camp in 2016 and Elementary School Camp in 2017. All of this is great news as we work to rebuild the camping ministry in ECMN.

Now specifically to CLEC. When I first visited CLEC, having heard life changing stories about the place, I was struck by two things. First: the incredible beauty of the place. It was easy to imagine a once thriving camp experience, which as you can imagine warmed my heart. However, the second thing that struck me was the absolute devastation of the buildings. Estimates at this point put the repairs well over a million dollars.

Shortly thereafter, the Trustees entered into a short term lease with the Tribe who wanted to offer youth programs on the property. The hope was that this would be a way to have this incredible place be used, have some work done on the property, and provide time for in-depth, long term strategy. Unfortunately, a year later their plans did not come to fruition, the lease expired and the Trustees became responsible for the property again.

And I am very sad to say vandalism on the property has continued. Buildings can get boarded up, the sheriff can be contacted and yet it is just a  very unfortunate reality that vandalism continues.

As the Trustees have continued multiple conversations exploring a variety of options, a proposal emerged within the last year to form a partnership between ECMN, the local community, and outside groups who have a history of doing mission work in the area.

The concept is to have CLEC become a place that would benefit those most in need in the local community, and be a place that could provide accommodations for folks in ECMN and beyond to engage God’s mission in the surrounding areas.

This of course will take a fair bit of fund raising. However, those working on this proposal are confident they can raise the necessary funds.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I am aware that people enter into this conversation at different points and I thought a brief description of the more recent history would be appropriate. I also want to be as transparent as possible.

So what can you do? Pray for the future of camping ministry in ECMN. Let me know if you are interested in our emerging camp programs and I will connect you with others who already are doing so. Let me know if you’re interested in the proposal for the future use of CLEC and I will connect you with those working on that.

Thank you for your love of camp and CLEC!

Blessings,
+Brian