I was standing in church this morning, chilled from the walk from the staff cabin to the chapel, and I took a moment to simply take in everything around me. The beautiful icons, the candles, the incense - everything seemed to radiate a warmth that was aimed at my heart and soul. What fell over me was this overwhelming sense of being at home, an overwhelming sense of comfort and release of worries about what is going on in the world.
I considered the hymn "O Heavenly King," and meditated on the words. "O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who are everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of life: Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One." I could feel the reality of the prayers as I felt comfort; while I was chilly I felt a sense of warmth, and I felt blessed beyond words and full of life.
As liturgy began I looked forward at the icon of Christ, keeping it as my primary focal point throughout the liturgy. The words of my spiritual father kept resonating in my mind, "Keep Christ as your focal point." Such a simple phrase, yet a powerful one. And while it seems simple, it's much more difficult in practice, considering the many distractions of the world. Sports, music, TV, food, dancing... with so many things going on around us, it's easy to lose sight of what's truly important. So while I work diligently, I also encourage you to keep your focus on Christ. Don't worry about what other people are doing - or aren't doing, don't worry about pop culture or materialistic things. Just keep your focus on Christ and allow yourself to be filled with divine grace through the Holy Spirit; the Comforter and Spirit of Truth.
As liturgy concluded this morning, Father Stephen gave a brief homily, and verbalized something I feel is important to share. He said, "Understanding and knowing that we are completely dependent on God for everything, that we need Him, and that we need to call on Him repeatedly, especially for something like the endeavor of camp is important." He continued saying, "This is where we begin, on the foundation of Christ." It ties into this years theme at Camp, "Live as free men... live as servants of God," 1 Peter 2:16. In order to be free, in order to be liberated, we must be willing to set our plans on the back burner and be obedient to God.
So I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to refocus your sight on Christ; to lay all your earthy cares aside. To look to the heavens and say, "Lord, teach me what is good and show me what is right."You won't be alone, because we're all in this together!
Glory to Jesus Christ!