Holy Ground

4 When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

“Here I am!” Moses replied.

5 “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. 6 I am the God of your father[—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Exodus 3: 4 – 6

            Due to an unsettled stomach, my youngest son Miles wasn’t able to ride up to Kirkwood Camp on Sunday with the rest of the Middle School Mission Team. He and I rode up together on Monday afternoon.

            We parked near the camp office and then walked towards Meadowside cabin where Miles would be living this week. On our way, we passed the pond and volleyball court where nearly all the campers were hanging out that afternoon. It was a postcard-perfect summer’s day: low humidity, dark blue skies, and vibrant green everywhere you turned. A wonderful, warm feeling overcame me. I knew I was standing on holy ground because I felt as I used to feel when I would turn down Dogwood Road in Media, Pennsylvania, the street where my childhood home was found.

            I went to Kirkwood Camp for the first time as a camper when I was a bit younger than Miles. Kirkwood has always been the property of the Presbytery of Philadelphia though when I went there as a teenager, the camp was fairly new to us. A few years earlier, my older brothers, Blake and Scott went to summer camp on an island in the middle of the Delaware River a few miles north of New Hope.

            My home church, the Media Presbyterian Church, used to “take over” all of Kirkwood Camp for a week-long summer camp for the congregation in August. The church offered a full program for elementary-aged children, middle school students and high school kids, as well as adults. For meals, we all gathered together in the dining hall to eat and to sing. One night each week, all of the counselors—a mix of college students and parents—were given 20 minutes to go and hide. All of the campers, from the youngest children to the oldest high school student carefully watched the clock and when time was up, kids came pouring out of the dinning to track down their hidden counselors. If you found one, you were allowed to pelt them with water balloons. The pastors hid too and were subject to the same sentence if caught. One year, the Senior Pastor and the Assistant Pastor dove into the dumpster. No one came close to finding them and they said they had a wonderful staff meeting amid the trash.

            On Monday afternoon, some of those happy summer memories came to my mind. But, as I’ve written already, I was standing ground that is holy to me. Summer after summer, year after year, God met me at Kirkwood Camp. I call it a “thin place” too for the line between heaven and earth is very thin there.

            As I greeted our young people from TMPC at Kirkwood this week, I know sounded like an old man: “I came here when I was a kid.” The young people looked with wonderment at me. Who knew they had summer camps back in dinosaur days? As for me, I have prayed all this week that our young people would realize that they too are standing on holy ground.