This Week at Trinity Beamsville May 12, 2020
This has been an unusual week. We’ve had more than our share of snow for the month of May, wouldn’t you agree? Mother’s Day was celebrated in new and perhaps unwelcome ways. And with May Long Weekend ahead of us, it will be unusual for many to not be headed for camp or the cottage.
Knowing many among us have deep roots in camping ministry, we are offering a Camping Sunday this week, and hope to bring camp to you, where you are.
As I have been reflecting on my own camp ministry experiences in preparation, one rises to the surface as most impactful. I was in my first year of serving the former Niagara Presbytery as Director of Vacation Bible School. We had two teams of five youth leaders serving fourteen churches and nearly twohundred children over seven weeks at that time. It was an incredible responsibility and so much fun. It was a memorable summer not only for the joy, but for a tragic and upending situation that arose unexpectedly.
A youth in the Pelham area ended his own life. Three of the four youth leaders on my team were deeply affected by this, having known him well. Nothing could have prepared any of us for that circumstance. The rawness of their grief was exacerbated I think by it being among their first experiences of loss. As a leader to them, I was worried and if I am being honest, clueless about how to lead them through this. I was concerned for them and their well-being. I worried about their stamina and energy, with the emotional toll this would take. I was concerned about the commitments we had made and the children we would be serving, whether their camp experience would be affected.
There was no magic pill or vaccine to fix this situation. But we would gather each morning and afternoon to debrief and talk openly. In one another, the group found a faith community of solidarity and support. We were like a microcosm of church: caring for one another, serving alongside one another, having real and sometimes difficult conversations, and growing in faith together. These youth amazed me in their ability to articulate just where God was for them
in this experience, and rise above their new and unfamiliar grief, to lead the children in their care. I witnessed each one come into their own as leaders, in spite of and perhaps because of their deep personal struggles.
Time and time again since, I have been amazed at the resiliency and tenacity of the human spirit. How the spirit of God in us can give us strength when bodies and minds are weary. This is particularly true I think when we know we are part of a larger whole. As elephants in the wild form a circle to shield the most vulnerable among them from danger, so our faith community stands as a place of sanctuary where we may draw collective strength and wisdom. There is much power and truth in knowing, as our New Creed says, “We are not alone”. It has been a relief and marvel to know the ways we remain connected during this time, with so many checking in on one another regularly. We really are not alone. You really are not alone. Please never hesitate to reach out for support.
“See” you Sunday ‘round the campfire.
Kassandra Matthews Student Minister 289-219-3445 firstname.lastname@example.org