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Forty-five years ago, I drove with my family into Koinonia. Together with Paula, Joy, and Marian my eyes were open to the Face of God. The invitation having been made by loving family campers and a deep desire to know God as a family changed our lives forever. The song “Face of God” by Karen Drucker has the line that summarizes the experiences of the years. When you are in a place that is filled with compassion and the beatitudes are alive,…

“Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called the children of God.”

….You come alive and you see things through God’s eyes. People begin to be the Face of God.

You are the face of God.

II hold you in my heart.

You are a part of me.

You are the face of God.

-Karen Drucker

These lyrics help me to live Family Camp. They take off the layers of hurt and distraction.

You are the face of God …

as I look out the chapel window down into the valley.

You are the face of God….

as I investigate another’s eyes in chapel or at meals in the lodge.

You are the face of God. You are a part of me…

as you appear in the plants of Grandpa’s Garden and the field lilies next to the camp


You are the heart and the face of my family and the healing that takes place.

Songs give me inspiration. There is another song that connects family camp and my day-to-day life. It is “All my life is a Circle” by Harry Chapin. We would use the song at many closings on

Saturday in the old days of camp. We danced together as we circled out of the chapel singing all the while staying connected by joining hands. It still gives me chills remembering the sense of the Spirit of God there in that moment. This is a place of welcome. It was and is a place of presence where all are welcomed into the circle. It is place where we respond to each other in trust and honesty. It is a place where we turn to wonder. What we are feeling and what we

believe both matters. It is a place of deep confidentiality as we share or do not share. The gifts that are given to you as seeds. They are planted here, and they are taken unfinished and ready to grow.

Goodness gets tucked away in the heart. I doubt that any of us are normally aware of having a profound effect take place. Unless the events are startling or unusual, they generally fade into life’s experience without much of a second thought. Yet the slightest of interactions may have a great influence on another. Each of us can open ourselves to the Face of God all around us. Being at camp I have met people who were there at the right time for me and my family. God moves through other human beings who just show up, sit down, and listen to my story. They are the face of God. Recall when someone has been the voice and face of God for you. Then taking those experiences as your inspiration, find some simple ways to be an instrument of good today. Notice how many opportunities arise for you to bring the message of God’s compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, and solace to others. Walk with a compassionate heart of Koinonia - community.

“My Jesus, thank you for having the same presence today no matter where I am physically, mentally, or spiritually.”

This was a daily prayer of mine during this past semester of college. I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad in the small town of Gaming, Austria. During this time, I was able to travel to new countries, learn about new cultures, meet new people, make life-long memories that I’ll tell my kids about one day–all in the spirit of embracing everything that comes with living in a foreign country for four months.

But studying abroad certainly isn’t perfect, and I won’t pretend there weren’t times I googled what a weekend flight home would cost, “just out of curiosity.” There were many tears shed, lots of time and money lost, holidays missed, and innumerable calls home. But through it all, the Lord remained present to me.

He was with me when I trudged into my room after a long travel weekend. He was with me when I stayed up too late to cram for midterms.

He was with me when I thought I was stuck in Prague forever.

He was with me when I wanted more than anything to hug my parents.

He was with me when I cried out a broken prayer.

No matter where I was, the Lord was right there with me,

meeting me where I was at. He continues His faithfulness to me daily, always showing Himself in my joy and in my sadness. He is the same God that placed me in the Camp Chapel and brought my wandering heart back to Him in high school. In a semester full of change and anxiety, God was my constant—my guiding Light.

And now, that Light has come down to us as a tiny baby born in a stable. He became one of us to show us His love and remind us of how present He is. In our celebration of Jesus’ birth, I am reminded of how yet again, He is reaching out to us—only this time as an infant from His cradle. Every day, He is reaching out, offering His hand out in nothing but merciful love for you, His beloved one. Every time you approach the Eucharist, you approach this same God of the ages. All that the Lord asks of us is to accept this offer and allow ourselves to be loved by Him.

My dear Camp Friends, I invite you during this Christmas season to allow the Lord to love you as He desires to and rejoice in Him as Emmanuel, for He is forever with us!

As we gather with family this week, we are thankful for our camp family spread far and wide. We are thankful for our camp home as a place and the lessons that we carry in our hearts away from camp. What follows is a collective journal holding the words of: George and Paula Welch, Julie and Mary Swiderski, Amelio Casciotti, and Kerri Nowak.

Happy Thanksgiving camp family!

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