As SPEC 2017 gets closer, we’ve been working hard to develop the theme Harmony and how that might shape our week together. Here’s a sneak peek:
The clamoring of our lives prevents us from hearing where God is leading us. From day-to-day expectations to worldwide events, we sometimes find ourselves drawn to those who are most like us. We take solace in the familiar and the comfortable. We know God is urging us to build bridges between ourselves and others. But what if God is urging you to go beyond? To live in thoughtful consideration, “harmony,” with others?
We will invite exploration of listening to others, we will honor your voice while joining in with the voices of countless others, and with those voices, we will sing and shout together.
Our focus scripture comes from Romans 15:5-7. We’re using two versions in our planning.
The Message: May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus! So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!
The NRSV: May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
- Sunday: Listen to the Song
- Monday: Join the Choir
- Tuesday: Sing in Harmony
- Wednesday: Shout your Anthem
- Thursday: Welcome Others
- Friday: Harmony
Have you tried to to let go of something in life, move past a tough time but simply couldn’t? Maybe its failing a try out, getting into an argument with a friend, failing an exam, a break up perhaps. No matter what techniques you implement to move on with your life, those memories or signs of the tough times in life keep showing back up. What I’ve found out in life is that so often in life, when we let go, we only want to do so partially. We try to let go of it when it hurts, but when we feel lonely or doubt creeps up in our mind, we reach back for a time that once was. Imagine the events in your life that you try to move past are like a yo-yo. You toss it down, as hard as you can, thinking it’s gone out of your life for good. But as is the nature of the yo-yo, before you realize it, it returns and is apart of us again. Letting go fully can be scary because even if the mistakes and past times in life are detrimental to us, it can hurt to lose something that has been a part of your life for so long.
One of our spec camps Josh Soulliere reflects on his experience of letting go
New School, New Me?
When I first think of the idea “Let Go”, I think of my freshmen year of high school. Just like as in middle everything changed, I went from a small private middle school with a graduating class of twenty four to a public high school With less than half of those twenty four friends. All I could think about was how good my old school was and how I missed it. These thoughts put limits on me. I became less interactive both inside and out of class. I became more sheltered and seclusive and limited talking to others. It wasn’t until half way through that harsh year of school that my friends Hunter and Nina encouraged me to try to enjoy the moment. I began to let go of the past and my longing for it and began to live my life. By deciding to let go, not to forget or to ignore, of my past I began to take steps towards a happier life. I soon afterword began to make strong friendships with all these strangers in school, which I still have today. I don’t know if I would be the same person today if I hadn’t let go and moved on. I don’t even know if I would have the same relationships I have today if I hadn’t made such a decision. One thing is for certain, I am glad I was able to let go to move forward.
This scripture from this week comes from the book of Jeremiah. Chapter 29:11 “ I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering.”
Let It Fade
The focus video for this week comes in the form of a music video by Jeremy Camp. May the words inspire your spirit and help give you the courage to let go of what you’ve been holding for so long.
Comfort in God
I am a strong believer that Love is the reason we exist. I believe that God created us to understand and experience the paramount feeling, and to express it in such a way that He does; So we can become more like Him. You don’t have to agree with that in the slightest, but with that being my philosophy to guide me through my days, you can imagine that I took, and still take, human relationships very seriously. I poured my heart and soul into every conversation I possibly could despite who it was I was conversing with solely because I wanted to grow with anyone and everyone who’s path crossed mine due to the idea that God created me to love the way He does. With this in mind, I am sure it isn’t surprising that I took my romantic relationships seriously as well and expected them to last forever every time. Not only because I was 16 and naive, at the time my story I am about to tell took place, but because I was in it for the long run. I would willingly look past tragic flaws and convince myself that these qualities in them didn’t exist. I think it is safe to say that I am a helpless romantic; I believe that when I am dating a boy, God placed them in my life because they are the one. To some that sounds crazy, believe me I think it’s crazy myself, but that’s just how I am. At times it helps such as in forgiveness, but it is perhaps also my greatest downfall. Here is my story: I met a boy my freshman year of high school. This boy taught me to truly love and I spent the following three years with him. We grew close to Christ, and to each other. He made me feel genuinely beautiful, made me laugh on my most somber of days, and always believed in me. I of course was convinced he was the one. I gave him every ounce of my heart; He became the center of all my thoughts and of course, I loved him unconditionally. We planned our whole entire lives together and held on through every trial that came our way because we both agreed that we were the love of each other’s lives and that one day we would get married and start our own family. We dreamed on a grand scale and were determined to make them into a reality. But then one night, he changed his mind. He left me. After three years of loving, sacrificing, patiently waiting, and of course ceaselessly praying, he left me. He found another girl and decided she was worth more than the plans we made. However, he didn’t leave quietly, he left me with an ounce of hope, saying he would be right back, and of course my stubborn heart and mind held on and clung to it with all of my life. I spent the following six weeks mostly in bed because it didn’t feel real. I didn’t want to know what life was like without him. The world seemed gray and I often questioned God’s reason behind it all. I was lost and my eyes were permanently swollen from the tears that stained my pillow that my eyes then lacked. For six months I was devastated. The plans we made were gone. The songs we used to sing made me cry. The hours we would spend talking were now spent in silence. His vanishing act, to me, was the crime of the century, and for some unexplainable reason he remained unaffected and I was left as the victim, asking God why he had to leave.
One night, I crawled into bed and immediately fell apart. I grasped the railing of my bed and cried my self into an anxiety attack. I couldn’t breathe, and having experienced this before, I cried harder when what would’ve stopped it before wasn’t working this time around. After minutes of being unable to breathe properly, my vision started to go; Life became crystallized and soon after everything began to fade. This caused for apprehension and I prayed because I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I prayed to escape this locality and to fill my lungs with air again. I slowly regained full vision as my mind went from focusing on the current situation to centralizing around my talking to God. As my outlet to him proceeded, my breathing slowed down and my heartbeat began to take a more languid pace. As always God took a hold of me. I prayed to him and told him I didn’t want to see any more nights that were similar to these. I told him my fears and I told him what I carried in my mind and what consumed my heart as if he didn’t already know. That night I told God I was ready to let go. I prayed to him to guide me through the rest of my days and to lock my gaze on him. I prayed for hope and to remind me that love exists and that it isn’t bad to date with marriage in mind, because it isn’t. (That is the end goal, right?) That night God took my worries off of my chest and I could breathe again. I let go of the plans I had with this boy and accepted the brighter future God had laid out for me. I trusted in him, and I Let Go. God gave me a love that the world could not offer and He took my broken heart and mended it. He promised me a brighter future.
This story might be hard to relate to for some who read it, but I imagine everybody has suffered loss and has grown bitter over it at some point in your life. If you haven’t, I am slightly envious because it is a pain unlike any other and I pray, for you, that when the time comes, it is easy for you to accept. I pray that if you are bitter over the loss of something, and the pain from its vacancy resounds throughout your days, that you ask God for the strength to Let Go. In Romans 8:18, Jesus tells us “The pain that you have been feeling cannot compare to the Joy that is coming.” It doesn’t seem believable, I know, but it is. Happy Holidays everybody, and may God bless you always and abundantly.
As you through out this week into the holiday and time spent with family and friends alike, find solace in the peace that Christ brings, in the comfort and blessings of community. The serenity prayer is one used in many organizations and support groups in which people are trying to let go and change. May it be a blessing to you as well.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can,And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Blessings, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Planning is underway for SPEC 2014 “Beyond.” About 5 members of the SPEC steering team had a conference call this week to begin discussing and discerning how the theme “Beyond” is speaking to us and how that might take shape at SPEC. Here are some of our thoughts… please feel free to comment and share your thoughts. They will help shape and inform us as we move forward. We started our call with a few moments of silence followed by these questions.
Take a moment to detach from the distractions around you, and quietly mediate on the word: Beyond.
- What images does it conjure?
- What impressions does it leave?
Here are some of our thoughts:
- Immediately looked the word up in the Bible and what things went with it. Corinthians – “beyond all lands”; beyond the horizon; there’s so much more out there than what we visualize in our small world; there’s so much more when I open myself up to that’s so much more to what I have experienced.
- Looked directly to Doctrine & Covenants 161: 1a – lift up your eyes and fix them on the place ‘beyond’ the horizon; beyond all comprehension, all understanding, all certainty, all knowledge
- Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass– may be a really good read for those of us on the conference calls; discusses the massive great awakening that’s taking place.
- Dreaming what new possibilities are; beyond our current idea of what it means to be religious and to follow God; new ways of being in community with people
- Kept coming back to something that was beyond myself; it seems like one of our goals is that campers have meaningful experiences that helps them to get beyond themselves; something bigger than me; greater and further than me; what does it look like to get the campers involved in this?
- What’s beyond me?; we walk around in a bubble – an arm’s distance away – then we don’t have to worry about other’s suffering and I don’t have to share mine either; getting beyond that barrier; when we do break down that barrier and get beyond our immediate self, it changes our perspective and how we treat each other.
- How do we think about God; God’s attributes? God is beyond my understanding of what I think God is. And because God is beyond all of those things, it moves me towards a deeper understanding. Luring me in that direction.
- Beyond All comparison, all Pain, all Grief, all Sadness. Beyond Bullying, Hatred, All comprehension, all Belief
- Beyond limitations; lots of ways that we limit ourselves
- We limit God when we try to define something in a finite way; when we try to put God in a box
- Common thread from above is an openness to new viewpoints
- Radical kind of openness
- Radical shift away from what we’ve defined Christianity and religion; sometimes we even put SPEC in a box and expect it to be a certain way and when it doesn’t meet those qualifiers, then we don’t know if it’s good or bad; so we need to be open to something radically different than what we experienced in the past
- The word ‘imagine’ comes to mind
We invite you to take a few moments and meditate on these questions too. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. They will help shape and inform us as we move forward.