Camp and Retreat E-News Aug 3: WATER | So This One Time at Church Camp | Blessings Report | Scarcity and Abundance

August 03, 2022

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Reflections with
Camp & Retreat Ministries


Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water. (John 4:4-15, New International Version)

This spring as camp leaders prepared for the summer season ahead and engaged with the Creation Speaks curriculum, Rev. Tim Stover shared a graphic from the US Geological Survey agency. The image (which can be found HERE) shows blue spheres that represent different amounts of the Earth’s water in comparison to the size of the Earth. It’s shocking to see how relatively tiny the sphere of fresh lake and river water is when compared with the size of the globe. This surface water, which is what most of humanity relies on for our daily needs, has a diameter of 34.9 miles and barely covers the city of Atlanta, GA.

When looking at this image it’s easy to take on a mindset of scarcity. Conflicts over water rights between farmers, fish, and development come to mind. The image reminds us of places across the globe, and even in the US, where access to clean reliable water is not as simple as turning on the tap or where once reliable wells are running dry. 

Yet, the water we drink and utilize is the same water that has been flowing on Earth for 3.8 billion years. The water cycle has constantly evaporated, moved, and purified water from one place to another. Life on Earth has been sustained by water for longer than I can comprehend. Sitting with this truth offers a vision of abundance. Perhaps water has been one of God’s greatest miracles, a large scale “loaves and fishes” meal for the whole planet.

In experiencing God’s abundance of living water, I’m reminded of the many ways that the physical presence of water has had a spiritual impact on my life. I’ve been shaped by opportunities to be in awe at the power of the ocean waves. I’ve been transformed by times in camp communities on or near lakes, rivers, streams, and the Puget Sound; the presence of the water adding depth and beauty to these experiences. I’ve found strength in times of reflection and prayer, while boating or sitting at the water’s edge. I’ve been reminded of God’s hope and transformation while witnessing the gift of a spring rainstorm in the desert. Hopefully, you too have been blessed by the gift of water in your spiritual life.

It’s no surprise to me that water appears in the scriptures over 700 times. To be human is to be dependent on water. Yet, our spirits thirst for more. Time in Creation and with our Creator brings new life. This spring of spiritual water helps us move past the scarcity of this life and live into the abundance of Christ. 

I pray that as we better understand God’s gifts of spiritual water and physical water, we may also have the vision and understanding of how to be better stewards on this Earth. What has helped you celebrate God’s abundance? What are some of the ways you practice care for the precious gift of water on this Earth? We’d like to hear. Please drop a note to Todd.

Jane Petke
Director, Suttle Lake Camp

*PHOTO: Lake Creek at Suttle Lake (Todd Bartlett).

So This One Time at Church Camp...

Top 9 Reasons Why Church Camp is the Absolute Best Way
to Spend a Week of Your Summer 

This passionate blog post was written by a camper in the Dakotas, but it could have been written by any one of our campers in Oregon-Idaho. The author has been to many different types of camps, but testifies in this blog as to why church camp is the absolute best. Read all nine reasons why.

*PHOTO: A camper at Latgawa is blessed by the joy of sliding down the waterfall (Todd Bartlett).

Blessings Report

  • Watching community deepen at camp
  • The cool, invigorating water of Lake Creek flowing out of Suttle Lake
  • The Spirit’s refreshing grace

 Please send your blessings to share in future issues of the e-news. 

Scarcity and Abundance

Jane writes beautifully in her article this week about the paradox of water: when viewed on the graphic from the USGS, it appears incredibly scarce. And yet Jane also testifies to the spiritual and physical abundance of water, noting that water may be a liquid version of the loaves and fishes miracle--for the entire world! In camp and retreat ministry, we often get to bear witness to the miracle of something that might appear to be in short supply, and yet comes to us in abundance. Certainly we experience that with  your financial donations. Even in situations when it seems like the dollars just won't stretch, over and over we are surprised by generous donors who give from the heart to support our ministry. Thank you for helping us to create the transformative experiences that are chronicled in this week's blog about church camp. And if you haven't had the opportunity lately to donate, today would be a great time to start!

Please donate today! 

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A partnership between The Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church
and The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon