August 19, 2006

A Week in Yosemite

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 4:34 pm

I just returned from a week at Yosemite with about 20 confirmation class youth from four Lutheran churches in our area. We hiked, rafted, rock-climbed, and of course did a lot of Bible study and worship. It was a wonderful week in an incredible place. Herewith, some reflections:

yosemite valleyLiving in community is hard, even for just a week. There was some interpersonal drama among the youth, including cliques, name-calling and all the rest, and that was in spite of a constant message of Christian love and acceptance from the pastors. (We adults weren’t perfect in this regard either.)

God’s community is open and inclusive. While we were having evening worship on a beach next to the river, a young college-age woman walked up and sat down with us. While intellectually I knew we should welcome her, emotionally I felt she didn’t belong and was intruding. Then while the kids were asked to share the highlights of their day, she spoke up and said that finding us was the highlight of her day. She said she was a Christian working in the valley for the summer and had been feeling lonely, and hoped we didn’t mind that she had joined us. I realized she wasn’t intruding, but that God wanted her to participate in our community, which she did for the rest of the week!

We should share communion instead of just receive communion. I had the opportunity to both give communion to, and receive communion from, my 13 year-old son, as well as others in our group. Those of us in liturgically-minded traditions spend too much time merely receiving communion from our pastors. I wonder if communion isn’t meant to be shared among the community of believers rather than just received from the pastor. After all, communion and community share the same root word.

God’s creation is a better worship space than anything we’ve invented. The last night we sat near the foot of Yosemite Falls next to a stream and in the midst of pine trees for our worship. We were sitting on rocks, logs and dirt, covered in bug spray, but it was one of the most spirit-filled worship experiences I’ve had. It makes me think debates about cushy stadium seating vs. hard-backed pews are a bit beside the point.

We can’t live on the mountain-top. As Jesus told Peter after the Transfiguration, as much as we’d like to live on the mountain-top, we can’t stay there. We have to come down and deal with the mundane and minute details of our daily life. But the mountain-top can make us see our life “down here” in a completely different way.

1 Comment

  1. I took my wife and daughter up to Yosemite a few years back. It was beautiful to behold, a wonder to experience, and a joy to share. Breathing the clear, cool mountain air, it felt like this was as God intended His creation to be.

    Comment by Gary — August 25, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

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