Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; August 13, 2017; Luke 5:1-3

Scriptures for this Sunday: Luke 5:1-3

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

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Many of you know that I spent last week at Camp Pecometh. My job was to teach photography to bunch of 14 and 15-year old kids.

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For many Methodists and non-Methodists alike, Camp Pecometh is a “thin” place. It’s a place on the Chester River where many young people experience God face to face.

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Today’s reading is about a crowd of Galileans experiencing Jesus on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus found himself on the shore, overwhelmed by crowds. In response, he climbed into a boat and asked Peter to pull out a bit. Once the boat was away from shore, “he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” The Gospels of Mark and Matthew also report times when Jesus preached from a boat {Mark 4:1-2; Matthew 13:1-2}.

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From what I understand, there is a place in Galilee (today’s Northern Israel) that is known as the Bay of Parables, where today’s Gospel reading most likely took place.

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Near the shoreline there is a naturally occurring amphitheater, where people would have been able to sit comfortably, and the acoustics of the site would make it easier for large crowds to hear every word spoken by Jesus.

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There is a similar location in Camp Pecometh, a chapel on the shore of the Chester River.

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Two years ago I was sitting in that chapel waiting for the sunset. As I sat and waited, I saw a slow motor boat chugging by (it was not very loud). The distance between me that that boat was at least 500 feet.

I heard their dialogue:

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– Look at him…

There is always at least one idiot sitting in that chapel.

– Yea… There is always one…

Let’s moon him.

– Don’t do that. He might have a camera.

And soon they were gone.

All levity aside, that was an awesome illustration of how sound travels over water. My hearing is not perfect, but I could easily hear the two men talking as if they were standing right next to me.

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That is why Jesus got into the boat that day. Everybody in the crowd could hear him much better from the boat, as opposed to him standing on the shore.

The reason I tell you all this is because sometimes we just don’t get the stories from the Bible at first reading. Some of what we may not understand often turns out to have a real-life explanation that only comes to life through the historical context of the story, and through personal experience. 

Camp Pecometh was started in 1946; I think that this season (summer 2017) was the 39th summer camping season.

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I view my time at Camp Pecometh as a mission trip.

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Mission trips are about three things:

    • Learning about God,

    • Learning about each other,

    • Getting something done; bringing something to completion.

Mission work forces us to view the world from different points of view and to come to terms with the fact that we live in a diverse Creation. Mission work experiences become the spring that informs my ministry. A lot of my understanding of God was shaped in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Cuba, Kentucky and Camp Pecometh. I think that this is the way God wired me: I need be out of my daily routine and somewhat uncomfortable to hear God better.

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For me photography is also a way to see and worship God.

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When I look through the viewfinder of my camera

  • I see God’s handiwork,

  • I learn about the world that God created, and I develop new understandings of Creation, and

  • I give praise to God.

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My understanding of Mission and Photography is somewhat similar. I guess that is how I ended up teaching a photography camp.

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Every time that I am at Camp Pecometh I see God at work. I see God in the lives and dedication of staff. I listen to their stories and I hear how God is molding and shaping them for future ministry and service. The staff of Camp Pecometh is also aware of God’s presence in the camp, and they are there because they want to be there. Most of them could make more money on the outside, but at camp they feel a connection with God, and that connection is why they put up with bug bites, oppressive heat, long hours, uncomfortable bunk beds and the other realities of being a counselor.

{Illustrations: Stories from the Camp}

Camp Pecometh as a thin place; a place where the human and Divine touch, connect, and interact.

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At Camp Pecometh there is a tradition that on Thursday Evening there is a special worship service called the Galilean Service. In many respects, this service is the high point of the week-long camp. At the end of this service that takes place at the chapel, everybody (campers, staff, SLC, group leaders) light a candle and send it down the river. It is a sight to see, all this light in the darkness of night representing the Light of Jesus in our lives. Over last 39 years, that is a lot of light that was ignited in Camp Pecometh, it is a lot of young men and women learning about God, falling in love with God, getting excited and carrying that light and energy into the world to make a real difference.

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That chapel on the banks of Chester river is Pecometh’s version of Galilee’s “Bay of Parables.” For 39 years kids from this area and from all over the world have come to hear Jesus.

Poem by Nazim Hickmet        (15 January 1902 – 3 June 1963)

If my heart is not on fire,
And your heart is not on fire,
If we are not filled with the Spirit,
Who will then disperse the dark?

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