August 3, 2007
Wednesday was towel exchange day at Crooked Creek camp in Frasier, Colorado. 425 campers were encouraged to meet at the center circle of camp and trade the towel and wash cloth that they had been using for three days, for clean, dry and neatly folded replacements.
As high school students meandered out of their various cabins on their way to the circle, I couldn’t help but reflect on the symmetry of the moment.
Our theme for Wednesday at camp was “Jesus Sees My Mess.” And the invitation to vulnerability had exposed more pain, anger, despair, and bitterness than I thought could ever be accumulated in the relatively short lives that are here. Lives lived in the shadow of shame, guilt, addiction and loneliness have produced an explosion of pain that breaks even the toughest heart. But last night, in the stillness of a summer evening in the mountains of Colorado, we described the offer of a lifetime. The ultimate exchange. My sorrows, my shame, my pain, my secrets and the poison that accompanies it, for the unconditional and transformational love of God. Our Father.
Tears flowed. Pain subsided. Hope returned… as one by one, young people came to terms with an exchange of cosmic, yet deeply personal proportions.
And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. …And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” ~ Excerpts from Luke 7:36-50
Yes, Jesus understands. Sinners redeemed. The broken restored.
The ultimate exchange. Our dirt. Our rags. His cleansing power. It’s happening in the mountains of Colorado and I’m humbled to witness God at work.