Pastor’s Ponderings

Last month a group of Asburyites ventured into the wilderness of Camp Shelly for a weekend of Family Camp. It was a time of fun, community, nature, bears, and lots of laughter. And it got me reflecting about one of our core values: celebrating community. Last year, as we celebrated Asbury’s 150thbirthday, Rev. Krisie Olah and I had the opportunity to catch up. She mentioned something that has stuck with me ever since. She said, “Asbury is a truly special church. They know how to have fun and laugh together. Not all, or even most, churches do that.” I may be an admittedly biased observer, but it strikes me that Asbury is a place that knows the importance of community. When I talk to people across all ages one of the refrains I hear most often is how Asbury is a place where they know they are loved, it is a community that has become like a family for them, it is the people who have loved and supported them through the tough and joyful moments of life, it is the people who accept them for who they are. We know a welcoming and loving community is an important part of our life together. But what does it mean to actually celebrate that?

Every moment of Family Camp felt like a celebration of community. From star gazing to sharing meals and dish duty to playing games to just sitting around and talking together I was aware of what a gift and what a celebration that time was. It was a gift for so many people to take time out of their lives, to schedule and plan so that we could simply be together. I was aware how rare it is to get to sit and be together without an agenda, without a cell phone buzzing, without places to be and things to do. It is a gift to celebrate our community by making time to rest and be fully present with one another. It was that gift of time that created the space for celebration, for laughter and games, for joy to be found in the love shared, relationships built, and shear delight of being in the presence of people we cherish. Of course we don’t have to trek all the way out into the woods to celebrate community. But sometimes it is hard to give that gift of time in our daily lives. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to pause and simply be present in the moment with the people around us. It sounds like a simple enough thing to do but putting it in practice is anything but simple. It takes effort and planning. It does not just happen without us being intentional about making it happen. But it is worth it, that’s why we claim celebrating community as a core value and not just a nice bonus that happens sometimes. Because when we take the time to celebrate community, when we offer that gift of time and attention to one another and receive it from each other, we remember the simple truth that we are loved, that we were created by a God who loves us to be love in the world for those around us. That is the joy of family camp, the joy of all those times that we make to celebrate community with our loved ones and with our church family. It is the joy of being re-grounded in God’s goodness and love that we experience through others. So how can you be intentional about celebrating community this week? How can you give the gift of your undivided presence to those who you cherish?

-Pastor Chelsea 

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