Everything passes away. Where we are camping today was once covered with water followed by life in forms like the trilobite, something like a tiny fish or minnow. For those who have seen the latest Jurassic Park, dinosaurs roamed the earth, right where we sit right now, and they left big, huge, footprings. Their own fossils and petrified bones were left behind so we can prove this fact. Humankind, less gentle with the earth, leaves today's footprints.
All of this, Creation, our sinnerness-saintness humaness, was part of God's creativity. We have an infinitely creative God that loves us and integrates humankind into a beautiful tapestry of survival, life and beauty.
Camping, for us at Mt. Tabor, is an annual reminder of our Creator God.
Reading: Isaiah 35:1-8a,c: "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantlyy and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of Yahweh, the majesty of God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, 'Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. God will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. God will come and save you.' Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; and the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert, the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground sprints of water; and the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way... it shall be for all God's people, no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray."
Our annual coming together is our duty and delight for we connect, renew and are grateful for the creativity of God during our visit. Every year we come tired, with many cares and burdens. When we arrive on Friday, we feel a bit like the Hebrews, the Jews, in Ecclesiastes. We know that everything passes away. Our tiredness affirms our own passing away: at some point tiredness will overcome all the animals, even the human animal, and we will all become ash - ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Still, as the weekend progresses, our Spirit becomes one with the Creative and Forever processes of God. The way volcanos, soft beds, minerals, combine to make layers of ancient Grandma and Grandpa rocks. We are renewed like the Eagles, not the Turkey Buzzards, like the Eagles, we see flying above us, in God's Creation, Redemption and Spirit. As we know from life and from Isaiah 40:31... "but those who wait for Yahweh shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Yes, still, everything passes away. Here in God's beauty, we cannot help but notice how small, minute, we are in the middle of this vast Creation. How small we are in this terrific Creative force of God. We are humbled. We are terrified. We are freed. It is freeing because while everything dies and passes away, God's love for us never wavers. "For I am convinced, says Paul, Jewish Christian, 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 come to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39)." Let us take this beauty with us. Let us hold it close. Creation is God's way of embracing us. Creation is God's way of saying: I love you completely, all of you. And I will never let go!"
Children/Youth Choir Around the Campfire: Hallelujah, We Sing Your Praises; Teach Me To Walk In The Light of Your Love; Jesus to Us Said, I Am Wine, I Am Bread; Kum Bay Ya;
Youth Readers for Scriptures embedded in the Sermon: 3
Final Sermon Preached as Diaconal Minister (ELCA): 8.15.