Headlines from First Thoughts

Monday, July 13, 2009

First Impressions- A Public Faith

Seven floors above the Gulf of Mexico, a new day begins. The tide rolls in to wash out last night's footprints and prepare the way for new impressions. The early beach walkers, lifeguards, and tourists mingle on the sands. It's still cool enough to run through the sugary sands of Alabama's shore. The sea gulls swarm ready for the morning grab. The porpoises ride the waves effortlessly.

Inside 33 students go through the rituals of youth camp. The rite of passage from late night doritos to early morning grogginess. Long-winded sermons and even longer music designed to meet them in a deeply personal moment that only an adolescent can know and only sponsors open and willing enough to be here can experience. It's another step when faith goes from personal to public.

At church, we do our best to make the jump from a parental faith to a personal faith. It's the challenge of being a baptist today. Parents make rules that are easier followed with the body but not the brain or heart. Camp is desgined to take the personal statement of faith and for one week invite a student to publicize it. This is a place where all your peers believe in you and want the best in you. And they reflect a glimpse of what God is cheering for. Here God calls in the safe confines of the beach, staged, rehearsed, and expected-- to awaken a student to the possibility that the next time God calls, it won't be on such friendly or feel-good terms. We need these weeks because we need Sabbath, and we still can't figure out any better way today to recreate a place where faith, friends, mentors, and Jesus can all mash together.

Jacob found his ladder to heaven in a dream. These students climb 7 flights of steps to live that dream.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular

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