2019 Mega Eucharist Sermon

Wednesday evening at Mega Camp all of the age groups gather together for Mega Eucharist up on High-Y.  Graduated High School Seniors, Christian Parker and Riley Demo, both of St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Overland Park, KS gave their sermons on the day’s theme: Agape.  Enjoy reading their messages below.

Christian: Hey I’m Christian. I’ve met a lot of awesome people throughout my years of youth events and camp. I’ve created really strong connections with younger and older campers. Everyone that comes really wants the same goal. They all want to have a good time with all of these great people, while also growing as a person. I have never gone a day at a youth event without seeing a moment that resembles Agape. If it’s just bros being bros or sisters chilling together, there always is just so much content.

I really want everyone to take a moment to take it all in. Growing up at Camp Wood is amazing and I don’t think we realize how absolutely lucky we are to be here.

I’ve made a lifetime of memories. All of this love and support from the diocese is so fulfilling and I can’t imagine my life without it. I’ve gained worlds of experiences all while growing in Christ’s love. This is a magical week. Let yourself be in the moment.

Riley: So if you don’t know me my name is Riley Demo. My brother is Asher Demo and my mom is Kelly Demo. And I’ve been coming to camp for God knows how many years (10ish??). My parents have always been a huge part of the Episcopal community so, in turn, I have been involved in the church for years.

My experience with camp has been none less than amazing. As Christian said, it’s been an amazing week. Christian was one of my first friends I ever made in the diocese. We went our first year together to camp. We both had a pretty rough week, not gonna lie. I got super homesick cause I missed my mom and Christian couldn’t pass the swim test for his life. But the thing was we were able to find each other and become friends really easily because we had that awkward connection. Wednesday we started kind of hanging out and suddenly started having a blast just because we were able to be in each other’s company.

I just want to portray how much that means to me. The friendships made here at Camp Wood are special and unique. How many of you have made a friend here? (if you’re not raising your hand please see me after the service so we can change that) And you love them right?

Now, this week we touched on Agape. That is just one form of love. Little did all of you know, there are 7 forms of love (according to the Greek’s) AND you can find every single kind right here at camp (wow-za).

Aros: lovey-dovey (the gross kind)

Agape: Godly, selfless kind of love. When you love something but you’re not quite sure why,

Ludus: childlike playful love. (loving pizza.)

Sorgas: Family

Philia: Friendship kind of love

And so on

Now, you may be wondering, why is she telling us these weird Greek words?

I’m not gonna lie I’ve struggled with my faith. I struggled to belong here for a week without my parents and although I’m not that old, I’ve been through many parts of a faith journey that is ever winding. But what I’ve figured out and what I’m trying to stress is that this week, here at Camp Wood, that doesn’t matter. These people here love me. I could shave my head or do something awful or anything and the thing is these people around me will still love me.

That is what I want you to take away from this. I want you to know that EVERYONE here loves you and supports you and will care for you in whatever way they can. That is why camp is special. But camp shouldn’t be the only place that is special. I want you to take that love and support mentality into the world. Whether it is work or school or the grocery store or anywhere I want you to take it.

How do you do that? Smile laugh (because it’s contagious like actually… look up the TEDtalk about it). But finally, tell them. Tell people you love them. That will definitely get the point across, I promise.

Thanks for listening to me. Love you.

Monday in Alaska

Monday’s blog is written by Christian Parker from St. Thomas in Overland Park.

We traveled to the tallest mountain in North America, it took us about 2 hours (3 if you count all the times we stopped for pictures). We arrived to really chilly, rainy weather. It was sprinkling with some breeze. After spending some time at the gift shop, we started to travel up the 15 mile road where we saw beautiful landscapes. As we got out of the van, my friends Scott and Carson and I, ran down a trail on the side of the road. We saw so much nature, and beauty. We hadn’t gotten down that far before Will called us back up. We drove down the road a little father and went to a designated trail. We walked for a little bit and we stopped and ate our lunch. While we were gone, some of our group walked to a river that had crystal clear water. They told us of their findings. Out of curiosity and desire for adventure, Bre, Jaycee, and me quickly finished our lunches and went to check out this river for ourselves. We went down there and were amazed at how clear and how cold this water was. We followed the river for a bit and found some of the coolest rocks we’ve ever seen. They had so many crazy colors and cool grooves. We took some of our favorite ones and decided to go back.

Kansas has a lot of beauty in the Flint Hills. But the mountains of Denali beat them by a mile.

Sunday in Alaska

Hi, I’m Greta from Saint Michaels and All Angles in Mission, KS. I just graduated from JCCC and will be transferring to Nebraska Wesleyan University in the fall to finish my degree in psychology. Our group has learned so much this week from Mother Betty and we were so blessed to celebrate Eucharist with her, the bishop of Alaska, and the Saint Matthew’s parishioners on Sunday. Three members of our team preached about how they’ve seen God this week. Each night when we share how we felt connected to God that day is very special to many members and I am so thankful we could share some of those experiences with the congregation.

After mass, the congregation prepared a potluck for lunch. I sat with a man named Paul who told me all about how caribou migrate. He took time to draw out migration patterns and small maps of regions the different types of caribou are in. It was a special experience to talk with such a knowledgeable and welcoming person.

Later in the day we visited Morris Thompson center- a cultural museum. We were all excited to see the Flying Bishop portion of the exhibit. We also visited Pioneer Park, a park filled with museums, shops, and restaurants.

That evening Mother Betty welcomed us into her home for supper with the Bishop. The evening was filled with games, laughter, and it ended with a meaningful conversation with the Bishop. His honestly and sincerity made for another great learning experience.

I am so grateful for my time in Alaska and spending it with a group that means so much to me. Mother Betty’s generosity and kind heart made it easy to connect and get the most out of this trip.

Saturday in Alaska

Your blog for Saturday comes from Scott Adams, high school junior from Good Shepherd in Wichita.

We went to Circle Village [a 4 hour drive each way], saw all these super cool hills, stopped a lot to look at the land, and saw a lot of caribou. It was so so cool.

After driving we made it to Circle and met Irene’s sister, Margaret. She invited us to her home and on a boat ride. The chief herself took us out on the river and we saw how they catch their salmon. Then, we ate fresh salmon for lunch [both baked and smoked], met a lot more people, and checked out their village.

When we got back to the village church (Holy Trinity), we had a really beautiful service. [There isn’t a priest in the village, so they don’t get to celebrate Eucharist very often. Dillon and Emily led our music, Karen and Bre were readers, and Will preached. We ended with Lord of the Dance and there was actual dancing in the aisles.

After church, the chief invited us to her house and we saw how salmon is butchered, dried, and smoked. She also gave us a bag of salmon jerky to try!]

On our way back we stopped and picked some fresh blueberries, which were delicious, and climbed to the top of a small mountain. We made it back to Fairbanks pretty late. Then, we got some Taco Bell and shopped for pancake mix. We finally went to our Air BnBs and got good rest for tomorrow.

Friday in Alaska

My name is Jaycee Clark, this is my 10th youth event and I am currently going to St. Andrews in Derby, Kansas. I felt compelled to write today’s blog because I not only felt spiritually connected to today but emotionally connected as well.

At St. Andrews, we do “Sandwich Saturday” every month. Where we make about 400 sandwiches for the homeless in Wichita. We deal with A LOT of homeless people. And I can definitely say that there was a change of pace here in Alaska. The fact that we had so many helping hands ended up in us finishing about 80 sandwiches in 20 minutes (which was slightly delayed because we didn’t have enough bread) and to me that’s absolutely mind boggling. So having many hands working was the spiritual component to today.

[We packed 80 sack lunches for the “Angels in Motion” Fairbanks group. They provide a hot meal every Friday and give people sack lunches to take home for a meal later in the day. This week, the group set up a luau at the Catholic Church downtown. Our group helped decorate for the luau, go out and invite people to come, welcome them and serve them food, then we helped clean up. We also brought lightweight blankets, jackets, and socks from St. Matthew’s cold weather clothes pantry to give to anyone who needed them.]

My favorite part of today was walking around to let people know they were welcome to come to the luau. Bre and I met this woman named Denise. She and her friend (who’s name we didn’t catch) convinced Bre to say a prayer. So we all held hands and bowed our heads while Bre prayed aloud. Denise loved the prayer so much she told her friend to tell one. So we held hands, and bowed our heads again as she prayed. She decided she wanted us all to pray, so she took action in the most meaningful prayer I’ve heard in all my (almost) 16 years of life. She said that we would go very far in life, and that God was on our side and in our hearts. Every word she said just stuck to me and I can’t fathom how much it spoke to me. And to me, it was so sweet that I shed a tear during her prayer and felt like God’s hand was literally on my shoulder.

If you were in my shoes you would see why I thought this was very emotional for me. Growing up adopted, I’ve been told that I wouldn’t go far, and I would just grow up to be like my mother. Trying to be funny to compensate for all the hate I had for myself in my mind. But having her tell us we were beautiful and worth so much more than we bargained for was so enlightening I saw myself differently. And I stopped seeing with my head, but instead with my heart.

[We returned to St. Matthews for a quick lunch for ourselves, then did some touristy stuff. We went to the Santa Claus House in North Pole Alaska and all had our pictures taken with Santa. Then we stopped at the Knotty gift shop in Salcha. We visited some folks who Betty knew from North Carolina that recently relocated to Alaska and are in the process of building a house. We then stopped briefly to see Harding Lake, but it was raining so we didn’t stay long. We had supper at the Salchacket Inn — everything from pancakes and omelets to fried shrimp to pizza and root beer floats. We returned to St. Matthews, cleaned the kitchen, and then back to the AirBnBs for the night.]

Thursday in Alaska (2 of 2)

I’m Emily Lyon from St. Thomas in Overland Park. Today was an eventful day on the Alaska Mission Trip. My half of the group went to a church in North Pole, Alaska (Karen, Lisa, Carson, Scott, Christian, Bre, Jaycee, and Parker). It was about twenty minutes from St. Mathews. We arrived at St. Judes and it was surrounded by beautiful trees. I truly felt God’s presence in nature.

The church was small and old (repurposed as a church in 1984). We got a tour of the quaint building. Father John told us about the congregation and how the church was a little run down. The part of the building we painted is used for Sunday school. He said about three to seven kids come each Sunday. However the part that we painted wasn’t really made for Alaska weather and they would love to replace it, but they can’t afford that right now. With our help painting the building they are hoping it will last for at least another three years. We got right to work and painted until lunch time. Then we had a nice lunch provided by St. Judes. Then after a short nap time, it was back to work. We painted for about another hour. We cleaned everything up and said our good-byes.

On our way back to St. Mathews we wanted to stop by this really fun looking gift shop called the Screaming Weasel, but unfortunately it was closed. We got back a few hours before the other group so we headed to downtown Fairbanks. We stopped in a tourist gift shop and then some of us went to get crepes. (My crepe was amazing by the way). We walked back to the church and hung out for a little while.

The other half of the group arrived back to St. Matthews and we started setting up for dinner. The parishioners made Alaskan dishes for us and about 20 people joined us for supper. My personal favorite was the Moose soup. After dinner we had a peaceful compline (which can be viewed live on the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas Youth Ministry Facebook page) and then the boys and girls went their separate ways for the evening.

My God sighting of the day was talking with Father John and his wife. They talked about living in Germany and my mom and I mentioned that we had lived there, too. We actually had lived in the same place just at different times. I thought it was truly amazing to see how the craziest of things can bring people together. It almost felt meant-to-be that I went to St. Judes. God works in mysterious ways. I had a wonderful day and I can’t wait to wake up and serve others again tomorrow.

Thursday in Alaska (1 of 2)

Hi my name is Andi Wade and I’m from St. Margaret’s in Lawrence. Today during our wonderful time in Alaska, a group of us went to Nenana (Will, Dillon, Greta, Ari, Jayden, and Mother’s Betty). On our journey to the town we stopped at two spots that left our small group speechless. The views were the most amazing views I have ever seen.

Once we arrived in Nenana (about an hour SE of Fairbanks) we met some really nice people and helped St. Mark’s church plant 6 crabapple trees, clean out a few plots in their community garden and weed flower boxes.

For lunch we went to the visitors area and I had the most amazing experience of my life. We were able to experience a small 1 minute dog sled ride. A dream come true. We then finished lunch and headed back to do more work.

The town of Nenana is really small (population about 350) it has one grocery store and a pizza shop, pub and post office. That’s pretty much all we saw of the town. It also looks over a river that’s part of the ice river challenge or something like that (where people put in bets to see when the river starts to melt the ice). We ended up getting a pizza at their pizza place and it was the best pizza I have ever tried. I would totally recommend the pizza to everyone. After that we headed back to the church in Fairbanks.

Today was the best day that I have experienced and it was an honor to be able to experience Nenana and the wonderful people in the town.