I was the de facto worship leader at Family Camp this year. Given that I continue to not be musically inclined, I’m still awed by the idea that the song leader is not necessarily the worship leader in more liturgical traditions. It could easily happen, but it was not the case here.
The RevDoc had picked the theme and scriptures after last year: building (Psalm 127, 1 Corinthians 3:9-16, Matthew 7:21-29). I had handouts for each section of the worship service. I called them out at breakfast on Saturday and all but 2 were gone in about 45 seconds. The last two took maybe 30 seconds longer. I said something to someone else, and they said it was because “people want to make sure they didn’t get stuck with the sermon.” Yes, even the sermon is done by the People at family camp. And yes, that might be part of the onslaught, but I think it’s more like “people want to participate AND not get ‘stuck’ with the sermon.” I didn’t hold anything in reserve for myself, and there was nothing left for me, which is okay because these are family groups and Computerguy is not one of those racing to participate in family camp worship (but it turns out he loves the all-camp games. Huh.)
Over the next 24 hours I ran into people everywhere working on their section of the service. They were energetic and thoughtful and creative. People were drawing pictures and practicing songs and writing and memorizing lines. They asked me a few questions, but not too many.
Sunday morning there was some grousing about the 9:30 a.m. worship time (camp director’s schedule–not mine, but I think it worked. It ends up being a long service, one wouldn’t want it to go much later than 11), but we all got started about 9:45.
A family with young children + an unrelated older couple (I assume they were sharing a table at breakfast) began the service with announcements bringing us up-to-date on what was happening down the hill this week. The single dad, his two kids, + woman-who-came-without-her-mother this year called us to worship in the midst of the trees and the hills and the sky and the sun. When the 8-year-old boy stepped forward and spoke loudly and clearly without a script the lines he and his dad had written, I melted.The confession and assurance folks had written posters so we could pray and sing (“Take O take me as I am…”) in unison. The Psalm folks read the Psalm (though they had been practicing a skit, so I’, not sure what happened there.
The epistle group did a sketch complete with props (the 7th grader standing on a good foundation with positive attributes taped to him and negative ones sent to the fire. They tried to burn the papers, but the lighter didn’t work. That, too, is family camp). The gospel group drew the wise man and the foolish man on a long paper. Grandmother and mother held the paper while grandfather (the mayor. yes I still feel the need to mention that) did the reading and the grandkids made wind and rain. They finished by having us all sing “The wise man built his house upon the rock.” The sermon, by a young wife and husband, was thoughtful and loving, talking about building our foundations together as community in the love of God. The offering folks had collected and handed out small stones as the service was started. They asked us to think about what we were offering as we built our foundations. They laid a foundation of larger stones, and we were to think of what we wished our stone to symbolize and lay it on the foundation in a few minutes as we came forward to take communion. Lovely.
And then we had communion, and a guitar solo during it (I almost forgot to serve the guitarist, but saw a friend raise her eyebrows and gesture toward him just in time). The song leader led us in “Amazing Grace,” and I gave a benediction. Then it was over and we were on to all-camp games.
Afterward the mayor’s wife made a point to come to me and talk about how lovely every part of worship had been. I keep thinking about how eager people were to prepare and participate, and wondering what that means–if anything–beyond Family Camp.