Pastor's Paragraph for June 23, 2019
JUNE 23, 2019
I have had the good fortune of spending a lot of time in the outdoors in the last 60 years of my life. These experiences have included canoe camping in the Canadian Wilderness many times with my friend Lee, a lot of canoe trips down the Juniata and Susquehanna, a week of wilderness canoe camping in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, backpacking almost the entire Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, plus backpacking the northern end of the trail in Baxter State Park in Maine, and backpacking on that trail in 30 inches of snow in 2008. This is just a sample of my great joy in experiencing the out-of-doors many times in the past 60 years. I consider myself very fortunate in being able to be a part of these trips.
I struggle, however, when somebody tells me that the woods have become “their church.” What is “their church” teaching them? What vows do they take when they join “their church”? Many Christians have said these things to me, that they would rather be in “their church”—“the woods”—than in a Christian Sanctuary. For me, the bottom line is simple: There is no salvation in the woods! As much as I enjoy the outdoors, the woods have never taught me anything about Jesus as Savior and Lord, nor have the woods taught me anything about what it means to live as a Christian. I love to take my Bible into the woods and study there, but the woods are supplying me with atmosphere, not answers.
I was taught about salvation as a child by Miss Frances Fleck in Park Street EUB Church in Harrisburg, whose pastor, the Rev. Sidney Buxton, received me into the Church through confirmation after teaching me the essentials of the Christian faith. In my 52 years as a pastor, many other pastors and many lay people who were members of the church I was serving taught me about salvation—what it means to claim Jesus as Savior and Lord and how best to serve Him. During all those years I never expected to learn about salvation in the woods.
What a joy it is to be able to experience both—the beauty and wonder of the outdoors along with the intimacy and warmth of claiming Jesus as our personal Savior within the intimacy of the Body of Christ. That’s what it means to be saved!
Rev. Dr. Jack Grove
Minister of New Members