Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame
But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below
The Christmas season always reminds me how unexpected our God is. Two thousand years ago, people were waiting on a King. They were hoping for a Savior. And then He came, but He came as a baby to a manger.
It’s a weird juxtaposition for me that summer planning sessions really ramp up just as the weather turns cold. Winter settles in. We plan for new inflatables on the Drenched Lake.
But I think the Christmas/Summer Camp juxtaposition serves as a good reminder. We plan for the expectations of big and loud and exciting. Amped up worship services. Screaming giant swing sessions. Echoing praise from the mountain chapel. A 200+ person dance party. And I believe that God is in all of it.
But I also believe that sometimes God speaks loudest in the quiet, soft, and slow. Unexpected for summer camp. But God is in the flowing waters of the creek. And counselor whispers in a dark cabin after a nightmare. And silent flashlights bobbing across the lake.
So as you prepare to greet the unexpected Savior this Christmas, rest easy knowing we are planning for your campers to experience our unexpected God this summer in both loud and still ways.
After months of planning, twenty-six executive directors and conference leadership from across the United States gathered at Asbury Hills beginning December 10th for the United Methodist Camps and Retreat Ministries Executive Gathering. The site was decorated in the Christmas spirit as Arthur Spriggs, South Carolina Camps and Retreat Ministries Executive Director, opened the gathering with a human bingo icebreaker. Once a winner was declared, Bishop Holston gave Tuesday’s keynote address. He based his message on Isaiah 6 sharing with the group that all have unclean lips and live among others with unclean lips, but that should never stop us from answering God’s calling in our lives. Bishop Holston also shared how the power of camp transcends time and distance. He shared a personal story of how his time at camp reunited a friendship separated for years. He also challenged the group to never lose sight that campers may draw on the experiences and skills learned at camp long after they have left summer camp.
The group continued to meet over the next two days discussing the overall purpose of camping ministries within the conference and how to best communicate the difference summer camp and retreat experiences make in a person’s faith journey. The group also discussed how to measure outcomes and hot topics that are popping up across the country. Fun activities including a tour of Asbury Hills, braving the Giant Swing at night, and a candlelight tour of Biltmore Estate were also enjoyed by all.
Our mission at Asbury Hills is to serve all people for Christian birth, growth, and renewal. And every day we seek to be a place where people can encounter the living God, grow in their relationships with Christ, and be refreshed by taking a break from day-to-day life. But each year around this time, the question surrounding renewal and the need for it strikes.
During the holidays, time somehow seems to slow down and speed up simultaneously. For most, there are built in times of renewal. Days off are built into company calendars, and time is spent with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The season of Advent is set apart in the church calendar as a time of waiting and anticipation for a king.
But then there are also times of chaos. Black Friday occurs on the heal (or even overlapping) the renewal time of Thanksgiving. The purposeful waiting of Advent can look a lot more like waiting in traffic for Christmas gifts or rushing around to Christmas parties and plays than the quiet, meditative waiting for a king.
What does this season look like to you? Is it a time of renewal or a time of chaos? If your life seems a little more chaotic, maybe it’s the perfect time to be renewed.