I write this today with a heavy heart. This month has been especially hard on our camp community. A longtime supporter and volunteer lost his mother last week. This week, our office manager lost her husband suddenly. It reminds me that we know not what life will bring us. Hopefully through the reading of scripture, we can all find comfort in God's Word, knowing that God is with us in these times.
Today I will also attend the funeral of one of our former campers, who happened to be a camper with me in the late 1980s. I wanted to share this story here because it was through this devotional that I was reconnected with him. Shortly after we started doing this digital "First Light," I received an e-mail from another fellow camper, sister of the first, from my Mount Luther camper days. She said she had been reading these posts and was interested in trying her hand at writing devotions. She wondered if I remembered her (which, of course, I did) and we got "caught up." I hadn't talked to her or her brother probably in 20 years, but they were part of some of my great senior high camp memories and I was delighted to reconnect with both of them through e-mail and Facebook.
Christine shared some of her writings here. She also saw a blog post I wrote about my children and how my oldest was adapting to life with a baby brother. I mentioned in that writing that I once read that your siblings are the people with whom you have the longest relationship during your life. She shared that article with her brother, too, and later told me how much that meant to her when we read it.
Unfortunately, I got those words from her on the day I learned that her brother was being taken off life support. I was shocked and saddened. Today, she will bury her sibling and I will be there at the memorial service to remember my friend and fellow camper. He walked along side of me as a group of teenagers reenacted the Exodus. He laughed at the stunts of the staff during the Camel Lounge Pavilion. He was at the Jewish wedding of our fellow campers the year we learned more about Judaism. He always was vibrant, carefree, and loved by those he came in contact with.
Today, I think of the camp song that reminds us that "Our God is an awesome God. He reigns from heaven above, with wisdom, power, and love, our God is an awesome God." Our God is awesome because of the love that God shows to us. It's unconditional. It will never fade away.
I invite you to read Romans 8: 35-39. Can something separate us from that love? The answer is no. Nothing can. As St. Paul writes, "Neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world nor the world below can separate us from the love of God." I'm told that passage was read by David Conz's bedside in his final hours and will be read at his service today. It will be that love that wraps itself around those who mourn and sustains loved ones that are left behind. It is also that love which I know is comforting and sustaining the families of Elinor Zimmerman and Ronald Aurand this day, who like David have gotten a big hug from our Lord and have touched the face of God.
May God comfort those who mourn and may you feel God's love this and every day.
--Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
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