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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: I see a campfire in my mind

Vieraskieliset / In-english
8.11.2022 7.00

Juttua muokattu:

7.10. 10:40
2022100710401920221108070000

Text: Mark­ku Ka­mu­la

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen

A friend of mine cal­led to­day and in­vi­ted me and my wife to at­tend a camp in De­cem­ber. I was de­ligh­ted! The or­ga­ni­zers had de­ci­ded that one theme for the camp would be “God’s gui­dan­ce in life, at ti­mes of both tri­als and joy”. They had cho­sen to ap­p­ro­ach this theme through pe­op­le’s life sto­ries.

I be­gan to see in my mind a camp where a group of tra­ve­lers have gat­he­red to sing, pray and lis­ten to God’s word. Psalm 78 be­ca­me ali­ve in my mind.

– –

In dee­pe­ning dusk, the branc­hes of trees ex­tend to­ward the cen­ter of a small cle­a­ring, where a group of pe­op­le are sit­ting around a fire, qui­et­ly sin­ging. The last rays of the set­ting sun cast long sha­dows on the ground. Flic­ke­ring fla­mes light up pe­op­le’s fa­ces. A yo­ung man is pluc­king chords on his flute to ac­com­pa­ny the sin­ging. The pe­op­le sit on rough­ly hewn benc­hes; coup­les with their child­ren, hol­ding their yo­un­gest in their arms and kee­ping the big­ger ones sit­ting by their side. Adult men and wo­men dres­sed in clo­aks have small bund­les of food on their laps, some of them open, ot­hers al­re­a­dy tied up. Child­ren run back and forth bet­ween the circ­le of light and the sha­dows. Yo­ung pe­op­le talk in small groups, and el­ders with wrink­led fa­ces watch all this with kno­wing ey­es.

When the sin­ging ends, one of the el­ders cle­ars his throat and be­gins to speak slow­ly in a qui­et voi­ce. But gra­du­al­ly his voi­ce be­co­mes lou­der and stron­ger. He re­ads words spo­ken by Asaf and re­cor­ded in wri­ting a long time ago: "My pe­op­le, hear my te­ac­hing; lis­ten to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a pa­rab­le; I will ut­ter hid­den things, things from of old — things we have he­ard and known, things our an­ces­tors have told us."

The lis­te­ners sit up straigh­ter. A mot­her tries to hush her fus­sing baby, lif­ting him up and pat­ting his back soot­hing­ly. Anot­her mot­her is fee­ding a baby who is on­ly a few days old. She has clo­sed her ey­es and le­ans against her hus­band. The yo­ungs­ters who were run­ning around at the ed­ge of the cle­a­ring slow down and walk clo­ser to hear bet­ter.

The old man con­ti­nu­es: "We will not hide them from their child­ren, but tell to the co­ming ge­ne­ra­ti­on the glo­ri­ous deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the won­ders that he has done. He es­tab­lis­hed a tes­ti­mo­ny in Ja­cob and ap­poin­ted a law in Is­ra­el, which he com­man­ded our fat­hers to te­ach to their child­ren, that the next ge­ne­ra­ti­on might know them, the child­ren yet un­born, and ari­se and tell them to their child­ren."


By now, all pe­op­le are qui­et. Even the boys who were run­ning furt­her away wipe their no­ses on the hems of their ca­pes and come clo­ser to the circ­le of pe­op­le to lis­ten. A hund­red me­ters away a dog gi­ves a qui­et bark. It has been gu­ar­ding the flock and has now seen the shep­herd ap­p­ro­ach. It runs up to its mas­ter; it has done its day’s work and ex­pects to be fed and have some rest.

The el­der is now spe­a­king in a strong but humb­le voi­ce. He looks at the pe­op­le sit­ting clo­sest to him and gent­ly stro­kes the hair of his small grand­daugh­ter, then lifts up his gaze and con­ti­nu­es: "They should set their hope in God and not for­get the works of God, but keep his com­mand­ments; and that they should not be like their fat­hers, a stub­born and re­bel­li­ous ge­ne­ra­ti­on, a ge­ne­ra­ti­on whose he­art was not ste­ad­fast, whose spi­rit was not faith­ful to God. They did not keep God's co­ve­nant, but re­fu­sed to walk ac­cor­ding to his law. They for­got his works and the won­ders that he had shown them."


The words con­ju­re up me­mo­ries in pe­op­le’s minds. Many of the ol­der wo­men wipe te­ars from their ey­es, some of the men bow down their he­ads and lean on their knees, their shoul­ders stiff. They re­mem­ber their grand­pa­rents’ sto­ries about Ko­rah, Dat­han and Abi­ram and their friends, who were hard as rocks and were pu­nis­hed by God (Num. 16). They re­mem­ber the re­bel­li­ous ten­den­cies they have so­me­ti­mes felt in them­sel­ves, which may have erup­ted as bit­ter words and even vi­o­len­ce to­ward the pe­op­le ne­a­rest to them. Life of­ten seems so hard and un­just: Is it re­al­ly true that life is here and now? Is there re­al­ly not­hing el­se to look for­ward to? They have been her­ding their sheep and go­ats one long, hot day af­ter anot­her, with brooks run­ning dry and grass drying up. They have spent nights watc­hing out for be­asts and rob­bers. Is this re­al­ly what God’s bles­sing is like – to have ba­bies born in­to the de­sert and grow up to share this life of vag­ran­cy and slee­ping in tents, loo­king for gree­ner pas­tu­res and cle­a­rer brooks?

While lis­te­ning to Asaf’s psalm, their own thoughts be­gin to comp­ly with the thoughts of God, their he­arts grow ten­der, and they want to be­lie­ve the mes­sa­ge about so­met­hing bet­ter. The mes­sa­ge that has been spo­ken at camp­fi­res be­fo­re and that ma­kes one feel so pure and light. It is not a mes­sa­ge about the pre­sent time on­ly, but about a bet­ter time in the fu­tu­re.

The lis­te­ners lift up their ey­es and look at the spe­a­ker, who con­ti­nu­es: "In the sight of their fat­hers he per­for­med won­ders in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan. He di­vi­ded the sea and let them pass through it, and made the wa­ters stand like a heap. In the da­y­ti­me he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fie­ry light. He split rocks in the wil­der­ness and gave them drink abun­dant­ly as from the deep. He made stre­ams come out of the rock and cau­sed wa­ters to flow down like ri­vers.”

Even the boys and girls have he­ard this story many ti­mes be­fo­re, and it has al­wa­ys been just as ama­zing. The smal­lest child­ren, their ey­es round with awe, look at the spe­a­king el­der, who has been mo­ved to te­ars by his words. Our God has made great pro­mi­ses and has shown his po­wer! He will help us, if on­ly we un­ders­tand his will and fol­low his way! Their mot­hers and fat­hers have si­mi­lar­ly as­su­red them about that, and be­lief in their as­su­ran­ce has gi­ven them won­der­ful pe­a­ce.

Many of the lit­t­le ones have fal­len as­leep, held by their pa­rents, sib­lings or aunts. The speech me­an­ders through the li­ves of fo­re­fat­hers and -mot­hers, re­cal­ling their tri­als, doubts and re­bel­li­ous ac­ti­ons. The fire is dying down. Some ro­bust yo­ung men haul a few small tree trunks on to the em­bers, and the tiny fla­mes gra­du­al­ly grow in­to a blaze that ma­kes eve­ryt­hing look a bit brigh­ter.

The el­der is cle­ar­ly about to close his speech. His com­for­ting words en­cou­ra­ge them to be­lie­ve: "Yet he, being com­pas­si­o­na­te, ato­ned for their ini­qui­ty and did not dest­roy them; he rest­rai­ned his an­ger of­ten and did not stir up all his wrath. He re­mem­be­red that they were but flesh, a wind that pas­ses and co­mes not again."

He stops spe­a­king, is qui­et for a mo­ment, and then lifts up his hand in a bles­sing. Those who are awa­ke in the circ­le of lis­te­ners bow down their he­ads, some even join the el­der, qui­et­ly mumb­ling the words. They are uni­ted in the bles­sing that God on­ce gave to Mo­ses and Aron and the pe­op­le of Is­ra­el to use as a pra­yer.

The camp brief­ly co­mes to life. They will need to get up be­fo­re sun­ri­se in the mor­ning. The sheep will be thirs­ty and hung­ry, they can­not wait. A coup­le of wo­men have bo­wed their he­ads and are tal­king in a low voi­ce, then one emb­ra­ces the ot­her as if to en­cou­ra­ge her. Two men have gone asi­de to talk. Each puts a hand on the ot­her’s shoul­der and they bless each ot­her.

Soon all tents are clo­sed, and the fire slow­ly dies down in­to em­bers. The on­ly sounds in the si­len­ce are the oc­ca­si­o­nal whi­nes of ba­bies and the faint crack­ling of the dying fire.

– –

In my mind I can see the con­nec­ti­on bet­ween camp work and the camp­fi­res of an­cient ti­mes. Both enab­le the gat­he­ring of tra­vel com­pa­ni­ons around the holy word. It is mi­ra­cu­lous that there is so­met­hing that does not chan­ge!

3.12.2022

Hän hankkii sorretuille oikeuden, hän opettaa köyhille tiensä. Ps. 25:9

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