That ole time religion is in the air. Everywhere I look and read there is a Camp Meeting happening. Lawrenceville First UMC led the pack with a week of worship and community service. Salem Camp Meeting is happening right now with Dr. Alice Rogers and Dr. Hal Braddy preaching. As soon as Salem finishes, Shingleroof in McDonough will take off. These are just a few I know of personally, but I also hear of Indian Spring, Holbrook, Mt. Zion, and a host of others.
Too often we sneer at "the ole time religion" as being not only old. but out of touch with the current norms of our society. We wonder, "Who would give up a week of vacation to go sit in a hot tabernacle without air conditioning and worship?" "Who has the time to go to 11 and 7:30 worship every day in the heat of the day and some still have 3:00 ?" "Where are the new and current songs that 'really' allow you to worship?" Did I mention that it is hot! (I have broken many a Funeral Home fan from fanning myself.)
We could look at the negatives and ask why (and I will admit in my younger days I did ask "WHY?" ... coming from Florida where I never had experienced Camp Meeting). I want to challenge our thinking just a bit and ask, "Why not?"
Why not allow people a chance to return to their roots? We see throughout the Old Testament and even the New Testament a call to remember. Remember where we have come from and how we have been cared for by the unseen hand of loving and merciful God. I think it is scriptural, and it is within each of us to touch that sacred place where at the Cross we first saw the Light. I believe it is in powerful reflective moments that we find our first Love again.
As I said above, coming from Florida we didn't have Camp Meeting, but we did have Evening Worship, and believe me it could rival any good Camp Meeting. I discovered my roots in those services and touched the Cross where I found my Savior. For me Camp Meeting, like Evening Worship, allows me to take stock and to remember my commitment to Christ.
I wonder what spiritual mountain-top legacy are we leaving our children and grandchildren? Is there a worship celebration time where they will remember ... "it began here" or are we satisfied with "Drive-thru" religious experiences? I applaud our friends at Lawrenceville Camp Meeting for working to tie the sacred and secular together as they worship and as they serve the community in this week. Maybe this is a model for us all?
I enjoy the moments at Camp Meeting now, and I want my children to one day have a place to enjoy and be restored to that first Love and then go and love others.
P.S. I was blessed to preach to a bit of the heavenly community on Sunday as I preached at Still Waters UMC. What a privilege to share in the installation of my sister and colleague Dr. Bernice Kirkland as the District Superintendent of the Atlanta College Park District and to represent Bishop Watson.