Pastor’s Paragraph for May 31, 2020

Pastor's Paragraph for May 31, 2020

MAY 31, 2020


In the summer of 1962, I worked as a counselor for the YMCA Camp Shikelamy in Clark’s Valley, north of Harrisburg. My main job was taking young boys on Canoe trips down the Susquehanna River. They were great trips! We would usually start somewhere north of the Clark’s Ferry Bridge or start on the Juniata River. Our destination would always be City Island in Harrisburg.

There was one particular camping spot that I always enjoyed, located right where the Juniata River flowed into the Susquehanna River. I can still remember sitting outside my tent early in the morning, looking out at the river while I read from Scripture. The flow of the river was a spiritual phenomenon to me, a symbol of God’s presence flowing through our lives. It reminded me of the words of the hymn-writer, “Shall we gather at the river, where bright angel feet have trod, with its crystal tide forever flowing by the throne of God.” The words of another hymn were sung at the memorial service for both of my parents: “When the darkness appears and the night draws near, and the day is past and gone, at the river I stand, guide my feet, hold my hand: Take my hand, precious Lord lead me home.” I felt that kind of power in God’s presence as I watched the river flowing by my camp sight. 

In 1989 Shirley and I had the great privilege of visiting the country of Israel. While I was there, I took a plastic bottle to the Jordan River, filled it, and brought it home with me. I put small portions of that water in the baptismal font when I baptized my 12 grandchildren. What a privilege that was! 

Water has become a powerful symbol of Christ’s presence in our Christian lives, with a focus on the water of Christian baptism, which symbolizes the new life we share in Christ. At Camp Hill UMC, we offer the water of Christian baptism joyfully to all who desire that powerful experience, whether through sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. We invite all who desire this sacrament to become a part of the Discipleship Cycle at our church and “gather at the river of new life” to receive this beautiful sacrament. 


Rev. Dr. Jack Grove
New Members Ministry