Road to Maple

By Chad Hershberger

Luke 24:36-48

Picture it: Camp Mount Luther. Present day. A group of campers and their cabin leaders are walking to a village called Maple, about seven miles from Mifflinburg. They are talking to each other about all the things that had happened to them. They’d been to crafts, they swam in the pool, they canoed in the pond, they sang after meals, and even played “Down and Out” in the field. The week has been such a blast and they are all a bit sad that tomorrow they will head home.

But one camper, Chloe, seems particularly sad. More than anyone else, she doesn’t want to go home tomorrow. Her parents are recently separated and her sister is leaving for college. Her home life feels full of uncertainty and so much loneliness. Camp has been an oasis from all this trouble and her new friends have helped her to feel connected and maybe even joyful again. And yet despite all the fun going on around her, despite how much camp means to her, Chloe seems somber.

As the campers walk along joking and laughing and singing, Chloe lags behind with her head down. Her cabin leader drops back to walk beside her and asks her what’s up. Through tears Chloe explains about her parents and her sister and how much she’s dreading going home.

“I had hoped,” she says, “that I could just stay here forever.”

As they walk, Chloe’s cabin leader listens to Chloe’s story and validates Chloe’s troubled feelings. The cabin leader’s parents are divorced so she understands a little what Chloe is going through. They don’t realize it, but someone else is walking along with them, someone who has been there all along. No one has seen him yet but something about him makes it seem like he belongs there.

As they near their cabin, Chloe’s cabin leader turns to her and says, “How would you like it if we put together a text chain for our cabin group so you can stay in touch with all your new friends? I bet they’d want to hear your story and offer their love and support however they can.”

Chloe smiles, and in that moment the person who had been walking with them all along suddenly becomes visible. In their shock they glimpse him for just a moment and then he vanishes. All that is left is a feeling inside both Chloe and her cabin leader that something bigger than themselves just happened, and that they will never be truly alone.

At camp, we see Jesus all the time:

  • In counselors, caring for our campers when they are sad, homesick, or upset.
  • In chaplains, helping us learn and hear the gospel.
  • In friends, putting others’ needs above their own.
  • In strangers, whose newness and diversity we welcome.
  • In experiences at mealtimes, the pool, the ropes course, Bible Study, crafts, games, and singing.
  • And… walking alongside the road when we aren’t feeling our best, receiving the love of Jesus from our friends as they care for us.

At camp, we meet Jesus again and again. And knowing Jesus is there is a comfort. We might paraphrase Psalm 4 like this:

In the middle of the night, Lord, I wake.
This cabin is strange; I can’t find the light; I can’t find the door.
The path outside is long and dark.
I am afraid.
But this is your camp, God.
I was a stranger, and you took me in.
I was alone, and you made me welcome through the staff.
In your camp, I have nothing to fear.
I can sink back into my bed and set my mind at rest.
I put myself in your hands. I trust you.
Am I crazy? Am I a fool?
Some would say so. They doubt you.
But I know the peace I felt when you opened your door and the warmth when you invited me to share your table.
I can let my eyes close.
In your camp, I am at home.
(Adapted From: Everyday Psalms by Jim Taylor, Wood Lake Publications)

Where do you see Jesus?

Just like Jesus was with Chloe and her cabin leader, Jesus is with you and me! Author Alex Stevenson says, “Do you want to see the risen Christ? Look in your lives because he is already there. Look in your workplaces—he is there. Look in your classrooms. Weren’t there times when your hearts burned? Perhaps that was Jesus talking to you!”

Where do you see Jesus?

If you are like me and Chloe, you may see Jesus when times are tough, and you are more intentional in your prayer life. You may feel Jesus in the encouragement of a friend or relative who just sits with you and listens. Maybe even that friend reminds you that Jesus loves you.

Where do you see Jesus?

You may also be like me and see Jesus in the every day. In times when I’m feeling stressed, and Jesus gives me some peace or suddenly something is cancelled, and my schedule is lighter. I see Jesus in the laughter of my kids and the daily love I feel from family and friends. Jesus shines forth in the sun and the beauty of creation and in the blessings of food and shelter.

Where do you see Jesus?

And what is Jesus saying to you? Is he opening your eyes to see new opportunities to share his love with others? Is he calling you to be hospitable to the stranger, knowing that when do you this to the least of these, you do it unto Christ?  Is there a committee he is calling you to join to help share your God-given abilities?  Is Jesus calling you to send your children or grandchildren or neighbors to camp, to pray more for our ministry, or to donate to Camp Mount Luther so that others will be able to see Jesus?

We are witnesses of the resurrection, too.  Just like the disciples, we can proclaim the Risen Lord.  We can see Jesus, victorious over death. We can proclaim the good news of what Jesus has done and how it has affected our lives. And Jesus will be there to help you do that and so much more.

As you leave this place, everywhere you go…. Keep your eyes open.  Look around you.  You never know what…. or who….. you may see.

Where do you see Jesus?