Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back to Buck Creek

For the past 10 years, the Elders of Calvary have gone away on retreat to pray together, laugh together, seek the Lord's leading for the church together, and set in motion specific plans or goals which would move us forward in reaching our community for Christ.

Calvary has had, over the years a warm and close relationship with Buck Creek Camp, just 30 miles up the road toward Mt. Rainier. Previously owned by the Presbytery of Seattle, people from Calvary have attended winter retreats, summer camps, leadership retreats and all-church retreats there. We have helped with major construction and clean up at the camp over the years so in many ways it is an extension of us.

Judy and I also have had a warm spot in our hearts for Buck Creek. Our daughters attended their first summer camps there. I served on the Camps and Conferences Committee for Seattle Presbtytery for over 5 years. I led High School Summer Camps there. Our family has stayed many a night in the rustic, beautiful retreat house.

We all were saddened when the Presbytery decided to sell the camp several years ago. Was this the end of an era? Would Buck Creek close permanently? Or would some other Christian Camping organization pick it up, refurbish its aging facilities and use it effectively for camping? Our quesstions were answered when Camp Berachah, a local Christian Camp and Conference Center between Auburn and Enumclaw purchased it and began using again last year.

After several years of having our retreat at Camp Ghormley or Cascades Camp and Conference Center, it was really great to be back at Buck Creek. Fortunately we didn't have snow like the picture shows but we were cozy and warm before the fire in the large stone fireplace in the Retreat House.

It was great. Pracitcal jokes like remote controlled mice, fake legs sticking out of pillows brought the house down. Rousing games of Pictionaryman and Cranium really brought us together. We ate too much and slept too little. Most of all, we felt the Lord's presence as we knelt in prayer, studied God's Word and discussed what it means to be "a church without walls."

I am reminded that Jesus often felt the need to withdraw with his disciples to a quiet place where they could pray and rest. We don't get enough of that in our busy lives. With all the grim news of war and falling stock prices, it was especially nice to be away with the Lord and renew our faith and confidence in the Lord's ability to sustain his people through these trying times.

As we read Scriptures depicting the life of the early church, we sensed the still small voice of God calling us to not just go to church but to be the church in the world. Coming down off the mountain to our community, to our families, to our jobs and our church and our responsibilities became an opportunity to be reminded how much we needed that time away.

I am grateful for God's design of the church - that its true foundation is His Word, its cornerstone Jesus and his people the living stones that are being built up into a holy temple to the Lord. Once again I was impressed at the insight, wisdom and sensitivity of those God has called to serve as Elders. They keep me from running too far ahead of myself or of the Holy Spirit but they listen and trust and move forward in faith as they lead God's people.

So, it was good to be back at Buck Creek - not just for the place it is and the memories it holds - but because this was a time when God was at work. What a thrill to be a part of that calling.

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