Each night at Confirmation Camp, the kids in charge of worship choose the Congregational Leader (youth director, pastor, intern, whoever's parent came with them) to speak about that day's Bible Study and the theme the kids have picked for the day. Because they are crazy, the kids who had Friday chose me. That meant that I had to talk about the culmination of the "Blessed to be a Blessing" study they'd been in all week, and somehow also talk about the outer space theme they'd chosen. Kids these days.
Good and gracious God, We give you thanks for this time we have spent together, recognizing the blessings you are constantly giving us, growing in our love for one another, diving into your Word, hiking your mountains, rafting your river, singing your praises. Quiet our hearts and minds for a moment, that we might hear your voice.
So I have a unique opportunity to speak to you tonight. I'm in a funny sort of place right now because I've been serving as a pastoral intern at Holy Trinity in Littleton since last August. Three weeks from right now, I'll be back in California, where I'm from; internship will be over.
And so when I'm thinking about how to tell you my story and how it's part of God's story and how it's part of your story, I'm thinking about how incredible it is, for this short time, to be related to all of you.
Here we are, on a mountain in Colorado, around a campfire, after a week of play and worship and food and so much fun. A week ago, most of us didn't know each other. But this week, we ate at the same tables and we slept in the same cabins and we read the bible together and we sang in worship and we did skits at round-up and we had a dance off and we learned to play the guitar and we worked together on the ropes courses and we painted Sawyer's toenails -- how many memories have we made, all together?
These friendships that we've made happened so fast, without us even noticing, probably. But a lot of us are going to leave tomorrow morning. And even the staff is going to do a little shuffling, with trips and day camps and all the amazing things they do. We're going to come down from this city on a hill, go our separate ways back to our separate churches, back to our houses and our families and our friends.
What are going do with the newfound understanding of who we are as children of God that we got this week at camp?
We are salt for the earth and we are reflections of the light of Christ and we are living stones, that together build a city on a hill! We have been blessed with so many incredible gifts - each and every one of you offers so much to the world.
Hear these words from the gospel according to Matthew:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (5:3-16)
Everything that makes you who you are is a gift from God to the world around you. Every time you smile at someone, you are shining the light. Every time you participate in an activity you love -- play soccer, act in the school musical, laugh till you cry with your friends, bake cookies -- every time you do those simple things, you are seasoning everyone around you, enhancing the flavor of your community.
And it's not just at camp that you are these things. It's not just when you give it up to the kitchen and support staff for their hard work, or paint Sawyer's toenails, or high five your congregational leader for being so cool -- it's not just when you are salt for people who know that you are salt. It's when your attributes and your actions are a blessing to those who do not know that you are salt or light or a city -- those are the ways that we take camp home with us. Those are the ways that we keep these newly formed relationships alive, even when we aren't in these same villages anymore.
Since the theme for today is space, I was thinking this morning as we sang Little Room, about how even on the darkest night, God fills the sky with little sparks of light. It is you who are those little sparks of light. (Look up at the sky right now. Can you see any stars? It's cloudy. When the world is cloudy, it is us who have to light the night around us. Do you have a flashlight? Take it out. Light it up. Wow, right? That's pretty legit. Okay turn those off, now. I'm blinded by your light, haha)
And so for me, you guys, going back down the mountain tomorrow will be particularly poignant. It has been such an incredible blessing to be among you this week, and on a larger scale, being in Colorado this year. So many of you have been salt for my earth. So many of you have blinded me with the light of the Christ we know and love. So many of you have been that refuge, that city on the hill
And I hope you know it because I said it to you or thanked you in some way. But even if I didn't, the simple truth that we're all here together, piling our blessings on one another, you give me great hope for the future of the church and the world.
There's a lot of darkness around us. Space is a pretty big place. But when we, as the body of Christ, take full advantage of the blessings we have received and use them to bring out the flavor and the light that seems to be missing, and bring safety and comfort and refuge to a deeply weary world -- there are no limits to what we are capable of. The power of God to move over the waters and to create the farthest reaches of our solar system does not ever stop. Because God is powerful, you as a child of God are powerful.
You have the power to go above and beyond -- to infinity and beyond, we might even say -- to reach the whole universe with your saltiness and your spark of light.
You are blessed to be a blessing not just to Rainbow Trail this week, not just to your home church this Sunday, not just to your family and friends next week until you kind of forget about it.
In your baptism, God blessed you to be a blessing to the entire body of Christ -- the entire humongous universe -- and when you get confirmed, you will be saying that you agree to go out and be that blessing. You will stand up there and say to your pastor and to your family and to God and to yourself -- challenge accepted. So as you make your way through your church's confirmation classes and camp and all the stuff that you'll do, remember what you learned this week. Remember who you are and what you're made of and why.
I know that I will never forget you. Thank you and thanks be to God. Let's pray.
Infinite God, we are in such awe of how huge you are and how much you love us and how much you give to us. Continue to remind us of just how blessed we are, in good times and in hard times, and never let us forget our identity in you. By the many names you are known, we pray. Amen.