Preparation for any week at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp takes a village. As a counselor, Sundays are filled with the bustling anticipation of the week ahead, and the arrival of campers on site, or with travel to a new (sometimes) unknown place for a day camp or offsite adventures. For campers, Sunday is filled with the grand anticipation of who their counselor will be, which cabin they will get, and how many times they will cannon ball into that icy Flathead Lake. For congregations these Sundays are filled with worship, and the knowledge that their children (and adult members as well!) are about to begin a grand adventure and experience God in incredible ways. Finally, for board members and year-round staff, who have been working for months on budgets, policies, staffing, and “other duties as assigned” these beginning days hold the promise of all the detail work that has been happening for so many months beforehand. The camp begins to fill with excitement, the courts go from a quiet deer refuge to a rowdy place of comradery and prayer and song, and BOOM! the week has begun.
Much like camp, it takes a village to walk through this life. Each of us have our individual duties and jobs as we prepare for the Christmas season. For some folks, the Advent season is filled with preparation for final examinations. For others, it is filled with preparations of homes with decorations, with preparations of grand meals, and with preparations of gifts and loving cards sent all around. For others this Advent season is filled with a preparation of being strong, where there are broken family systems, folks who have lost loved ones, or those who are lonely, do not have enough to go around, or who are struggling with illness. Each and every one of us prepare in one way or another. This preparation though, does not have to be done in isolation. In our Gospel reading this week we heard Jesus’ response to John and his disciples’ wondering, ”Are you the one who is to come?” Jesus’ answer is cryptic, but his reflection focuses on John himself, and the expectations that the people had for both John and Jesus. Were you expecting a “reed shaken in the wind” or “someone dressed in soft robes”? No, Jesus says, you will not find that here, rather you will find an unlikely figure leading the preparations in unlikely ways, and a Messiah with no soft robes, but rather a Word of hope for the blind, the lame, the diseased, and the dying.
This Advent season, I pray that we might keep our eyes out for the unlikely preparers of the Way, and the Words of hope that we may not always see or hear. I pray that we might give thanks for the stinky camp counselors in hot dog costumes who are preparing our kids to live into God’s love and hope and mercy for the world. I pray that we might give thanks for the children whose wonder at the world and this season in particular can inspire in us hope and perspective as we busy ourselves with the minutiae of every day. Most of all though, my prayer for us is that we might remember that this work of preparation and celebration takes a village. That we are not in this alone, and that together we can better see the magic of Christ’s promises to us and to our world, and how we might be a part of living into those hopeful promises each and every day.
Jessie Obrecht is a long-time FLBC Alumni, beginning her camper days in 1999, serving as a counselor in 2012, and currently serving on the Board of Directors. She currently lives in Fairfield, Montana and serves as Pastor at Grace and St. Paul Lutheran Churches.