Expanding our God-Lens

Peace-Pole

“I don’t know why you love me, but I’m so glad that you do
And I don’t know why you need me, but I’m so glad that you do
You love me, you need me, you’re always walking there by me. I don’t know why, but you do.
I don’t know why you choose me, but I’m so glad that you do.
And I don’t know why you use me, but I’m so glad that you do.
You choose me, you use me, you put your hope inside of me. I don’t know why, but you do.”

I started this summer with a lot of “I don’t know why’s…” but this week has really transformed the way I understand my calling as a Peace Intern and my broader calling as an instrument of God’s peace in the world.

What a beautiful closing night in Athens, gathered in a circle around our newly painted and installed peace pole! It’s been a truly incredible week. As we have learned and experienced aspects of the world’s major religions, we have grown deeper in our expressions of our own faith. We have experienced the diversity among us as Disciples and enjoyed exploring the tough questions of life. I am so very grateful for the amazing adults at this camp who have welcomed me into community and helped me name my call to ministry. I’ve loved the amazing conversations and could very well see myself following in their paths to seminary someday. I’ll always remember hours spent in the lake, beautiful worship services and prayer practices, and courageously open dialogue.

Perhaps my favorite moment took place during the final Peace Lab of the week when the conversation took a turn towards discussing immigration. I gave the campers time to freely share their perspectives and many expressed frustrations about people “taking advantage of the system”. They expressed bitterness regarding how “those people come here and expect us to provide for them and it’s just not fair”. Just as most were coming to a consensus, I stopped the conversation, paused and asking very pointedly, “so how would Jesus respond?”

Nearly every camper let out a groan of “Nooo – don’t ask us to mix Jesus and politics! That changes EVERYTHING.” I responded with, “Exactly!”

Throughout the week we have been taking down the walls of the box we put around God through our Christian faith by experiencing God through learning about other faith traditions. In that moment we realized how camp itself can be a box around God, and we began to tear down those walls as campers experienced how the message of Jesus relates to life outside of camp.

All week we have been discussing our lens of understanding God.
This was the type of moment I had been hoping for all summer – a moment where some realized that their God-lens extends outside of camp to shape their every interaction with the world. That Jesus really meant it when he said the greatest commandments are to love God and love others, and that no one is

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excluded from that radical, active love.

With that kind of “ah-ha! moment,” perspectives can shift and campers can be able to apply their view of God to the rest of the world. Bingo!

O Divine Master, make us instruments of your peace… Grant that we not so much seek to be understood as to understand.

…And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

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