“Outdoor Education: Lessons in the Wilderness” – September 12, 2021

Rev. John Shaver

Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 9:30am
Outdoor & Livestream Worship

Outdoor Education

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than one seeks.” John Muir

During the summers of my college years, I would return year after year as a counselor at the United Methodist camps of Western Pennsylvania. I remember the first summer thinking what a fantastic summer job I had acquired. In many ways, it was a wonderful time, yet there were many challenges. Especially challenging were the times to help younger campers, mainly from the city, learn how to truly appreciate nature. There were many questions: "How long will we have to hike?" "When is pool time?" "Did you bring us a lunch?" and “What are we supposed to do in the woods for an hour?"

These questions seemed somewhat like those we find throughout the Bible. For example, the newly freed Hebrews often asked Moses numerous questions: "How long until the Promised Land?" "Where can we find water?" and "What will we eat?"

After debriefing as the camp staff at the end of the summer, we recognized the similarity of the questions. We felt the following summer we could use a theme connecting the biblical wilderness stories to the wilderness adventures with the campers. As we looked throughout the Bible, we found numerous stories of people wandering in the wilderness (sometimes referred to as the desert). These journeys often became times of great learning, connecting with God, and strengthening faith.

Marlena Graves, a Christian author shares, "The wilderness has a way of curing our illusions about ourselves and teaching us to depend more and more on God. When we first enter, we're convinced we've entered the bowels of hell. But on our pilgrimage, we discover that the desert drips with the divine. We discover that desert land is fertile ground for spiritual activity, transformation, and renewal."

Through our fall sermon series, we'll journey metaphorically into the wilderness. This is a time when many of us are searching for questions in a world filled with uncertainty and challenges in our own 2021 walks into the "wilderness." I ask you to join me in holding on to the scripture from Isaiah 43:19, "I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday inside the Chapel at 8:00 a.m., in the Founders Hall Garden at 9:30 a.m., or Online for Livestream at 9:30 a.m. or throughout the day on our YouTube Channel. This Sunday will be filled with special music from cellists Peter Ko and Carolyn Sechrist. As well as Olivia Hardy, Sarah Amos, and our outstanding SDUMC Choir.

Prayers with you on the journey!

Grace and Peace, John

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