The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

August 7, 2008

Boys' Camp

So I am off to Boys' Camp next week at Pioneer Pacific on Thetis Island - me incarcerated on a small island with many many young boys. Much of the leadership comes from St. Philip's. My role is called "staff support." Others will entertain the screaming energetic pre-adolescent and adolescent young men. But, even so, it is not entirely my natural environment. I went to Boys' Camp (not Pioneer) twice, when I was small; the memory still fills me with terror.

I am talking this Sunday in my sermon, just before leaving for camp, about fear. How appropriate. Boys' Camp for me as a child was a frightening experience. I was small, sensitive, quiet, introverted - the perfect vicitm for the wild anarchic energy of Boys' Camp. It seemed to me at the time, that I was always one step away from disaster. I tried to compete, tried to be tough, tried to keep up. But everything about Boys' Camp left me behind. I spent my nights fearing the approach of each new day.

What is it we fear? What would our lives be like if we could live without fear? What might the world be like if we were not afraid of one another, if we were able to live without feeling the need to protect ourselves against the antagonistic forces of the world that seem so often to be organized against us?

Jesus found his followers in a boat in a storm cast about by the waves. They were terrified and "cried out in fear." (Matthew 14:26) Jesus said to them, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." (Matthew 14:27) When we find ourselves fearful, the answer is not to work harder to bring the forces of life under our control. The answer is to "take heart." We need to find that place within ourselves where we can know "It is I." We are not alone. Jesus is with us. There is a strength, a wisdom, a power of life that dwells in our being. We name this power "Christ" and affirm that this presence is always with us and will never let us down no matter what may be happening in the circumstances of our lives.

Experiences like my time as a child at Boys' Camp, occur in our lives to bring us to that place where, along with Peter who in a moment of courage stepped out of the boat to meet Jesus, became overwhelmed and cried out "Lord, save me!" (Matthew 14:30) This is the prayer God loves to answer. This is the prayer that declares, I know I cannot do this thing called life on my own. I know that there will always be forces at work in the world that I experience as hostile and threatening. But as soon as I open myself to the reality of God's presence, I also know that Jesus will immediately reach out his hand and catch me. I am held; the forces of life I experience as threatening, are nothing compared to the force and power of love that dwells within me in the person of the Christ who saves!

Perhaps, as I journey through this week of Boys' Camp, I can hold this strength and be a reminder to others that the presence within them is greater and stronger and more real than any presence that may seem to threaten or intimidate. This is my prayer.

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