Blessing, Transformation and Heartbreak


Two weeks ago, Nate and I spent five days with the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry leaders at their annual conference. Do you know how much I love camp people? Plenty. So when they asked if we would plan and lead worship for this event-it was a fairly easy decision. I spent all my summers in college working at Lutheran camps. After I finished undergrad, I spent an entire year at a camp. These are my people. But, you know--it's been a while since I was surrounded by camp people.  It's fun to come into this gathering from the outside. Here are a couple things I noticed that feel true.

Blessing  At the final evening meal, this community of about 150 executive directors, program directors and emeritus directors were all gathered in one room. Keep in mind that some of the emeritus directors are in their nineties. These are the souls who followed the Spirit's leading to start camps--to dream, to invite people to pray about the dream, to raise huge sums of money, to physically build buildings, to steward it all well. These people stood in the center of the room. The newest, brand new leaders in the room were placed right around the emeritus directors. And then everyone else filled in all around. They all laid out-stretched  hands of blessing on one another and someone led a prayer.

Good grief. What an amazing model of former and present leadership...of passing on the mantle...on recognizing the gifts of leaders throughout the years...on support and wisdom. Let this be our model in our congregations. Let this be our model among clergy and mission pastors. I know what it feels like to not do this among clergy--let's try on what it feels like together.

Transformation and Heartbreak I spend a lot of time thinking about worship and preaching. Duh. That comes with the collar. Truthfully, much of Sunday worship is so very boring. Don't freak out. I am not talking about yours. Obviously. Or ours. Obviously. Let's just say...some. Nah. It's actually most. I don't want to be entertained or wowed. What I want is transformation--transcendence--to be moved. I want my heart ripped out and replaced. I want to be broken by beauty or by heartbreak. I want it to matter. And I don't care what the packaging around that transformation looks like (that's a tiny bit not true because I have all sorts of personal opinions)--but give me something. All those beautiful phrases and words and litanies and prayers don't mean anything unless they mean something. They have to break in and connect to my life. It doesn't matter when it happens--it can be during the confession or the songs or the preaching. We all want it to matter. I know that. So maybe we can take a few risks with vulnerability and standing up and telling the truth.

What I realized about these camp leaders is that they spend their lives creating places where people might transformed. Can this be used as emotional manipulation? Of course. But that is such a small percentage. Most of isn't. What I have experienced of camp leaders is the ability to take risks, use wildly creative ideas, offer words and storytelling in language that people can understand and connect with their lives.

Camp leaders called me into ministry and still continue to lead me. Thank God for the gifts of Lutheran Outdoor Ministry.