To be locked-up in a camp from Friday night to Sunday morning, with a bunch of hairy legged, poker loving, bike riding, kayaking, pickle ball playing, skeet shooters who in their core are lovers of the Word of God is indeed a cool experience. The one thing that unites this disparate group is the unity we find in Discipleship that owes its allegiance to one Person. I went to the camp with my friends from the GBC ‘growth group’ I attend. We drove 80 miles from Houston to this Pine Clove Camp in Columbus. Left our luggage in the cabin, got to know the other guys in whom we’ll share the cabin with for the next couple of nights. We clarified that none in the room were loud snorers, of course mild snoring can’t really be helped.
We then went to the auditorium. The decks were drawn. The poker players got right into the groove. The rest of us were looking at I-phones trying to find some interesting card game with clear rules. Our group ended up playing a game called ‘Oh, hell’. It was indeed one hell of a game… The night was done. We started off Saturday morning with a message by Matt Larzen. The key point was that there are two kinds of people among Christians – Disciples and Pagans. There is no category called non-Disciple Christians, we are either a Disciple or a pagan. Matt Larzen gave a brilliant exposition on gospel of Mark about the cultural significance of unique way Jesus went about making Disciples of those rejected from the ‘high level’ Rabbinic Schools.
Then we had the entire day to play any sport we wanted. Here were the choices Wiffle ball, Basket Ball, Hill biking, Pickle Ball, Skeet Shooting, Ping pong, Foosball, Kayaking, Swimming, Rock climbing then there were a couple of other games I don’t remember the name of. We got to play many games from morning till evening. In the evening Matt Larzen continued with Gospel of Mark emphasizing the need for Disciples to trust in God, unlike the ‘first’ Disciples who after having seen Jesus feed the 5,000 and the 4,000, when instructed to beware of the ‘yeast of the Pharisees’, wondered if Jesus was being sarcastic because they had forgotten to bring enough bread with them for the journey. Matt emphasized that we had to trust God so that that trust would impel us to take risks for the sake of the One whom we owe our allegiance to.
Saturday night was again ‘poker-time’. Some sat around the fire and shared interesting stories. Sunday morning, Matt talked about need for disciples to ‘correctly’ understand the Word of God so that we would give the ‘appropriate’ emphasis while teaching the different aspects of the Word of God. Unlike the folks in Israel who, in spite of Jesus telling them not to do so, spread news that Jesus was the ‘magical healer’; but completely failed to comprehend and fearlessly communicate Jesus as the ‘resurrected redeemer’ even though Jesus said that He would resurrect.
Matt explained a brilliant observation of some theologians as to why gospel of Mark has two endings and why the ending in earlier manuscripts is intentionally anticlimactic. In the anticlimactic ending, the women at the tomb of the resurrected Lord, do not to speak to anyone about the news of most dramatic miracle they witnessed, even though the Angel commanded them to spread the news. The reason why Mark ends with this anticlimactic response to the most astounding news of the entire cosmos is to convict the audience that they, in being eager to spread the news of ‘Jesus as healer’ and being not as eager to spread the news about the ‘Jesus are the resurrected redeemer’, were inclined to ‘Majorize’ the minor message and ‘minorize’ the Major message. Mark ended this way probably spurn his target audience to make them give more importance to spreading news about the ‘resurrected Lord’ instead of spreading news about ‘magical powers’ the spiritual world has to offer.
Matt suggested that we, as the early Church goers, ought to read the Books of the bible in one sitting to fully comprehend the meta-narrative of each book. Hopefully, I should be able to get to Starbucks on a Saturday and do as he suggested.
Looking back, we had been there for just a little over a day but it seemed like we had been there for a week. This I believe is because our day was packed with so many activities which we normally wouldn’t have done in a single day. I can’t recall a day in recent past when I have played cards and pickle ball and gone skeet shooting and then again played more pickle ball and was fed delicious breakfast, and lunch and dinner not to mention being enthralled by three brilliant expositions of the word of God, all in a little over a day. It was indeed a cool experience. We ended the weekend grateful to the One, to whom we owe our allegiance, for the cool weekend that was so filled with life-giving word and legitimate fun.