As a child I loved the times of the year when Dad would gather all the wood and rubbish from around the surrounding paddocks near our house and make a bonfire. We were allowed to let off fireworks back then, and fortunately none of us lost fingers or an eye in the process. Dad’s bonfire pile was massive and my siblings and I would wait with excitement for a night when the weather was fine enough to set it alight. The sky would light up with the flames from the bonfire, numerous fireworks Dad had set off and the sparklers we all held as we stood around the blazing fire.
I still love campfires, and the times of the year when we take time out to gather around on family and church retreats, or just because we can in the back yard. We grab the guitars, our singing voices, bags of marshmallows and our jackets and beanies. Then we all carefully choose a long enough stick to toast the amazing amounts of pink and white mushy marshmallows there always are, and we commune around the campfire.
I always end up looking around at everyone and reflecting on how thankful I am that we have all chosen to be here, in this space together. That we’ve taken time out of our busy schedules and hectic pace of life to stop, to gather and to just sit as the flames of the fire warm our faces. We laugh at the singing and the discussions of who has the best skills at toasting marshmallows, and who’s eaten the most. We sing some more, eat, tell stories and thank God. And at night we all go off to bed with the smell of smoke in our hair, and our hearts and tummies full.
On contemplation I believe God loves campfires, because when we gather in community; when we rest back, and just enjoy being alive it blesses Him. There is harmony and refreshing in that space, and God says that He is not only present with us, but that He also commands His blessing when we unite together.
The bible says, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
God loves to see us happy, rested and enjoying the life He has blessed us with. Perhaps He wonders why we don’t live this way all the time. Why we don’t gather more often with no agenda but just to stop, to chill out and to enjoy His love and one another’s company as we thank Him for simply being here?
Every culture has it’s campfires; for some it is a literal camp or bonfire, a hangi, umu, or around the backyard bbq. For others it’s candles, fairy lights, and a dinner table. Whatever your “campfire” preference or experience lets take the time to have more “campfire” moments with those in our lives. Whether that is our immediate family, work or sporting mates, school or uni friends, our church community, or all of them rolled in together. Let’s gather together more often, and why not invite the neighbours and ask God who else you can invite that could benefit from some “campfire” love, and the sticky delights of a toasted marshmallow.
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion. For there the Lord commanded the blessing – life forever more.” (Psalm 133
Prayer: Lord thank you for the simple pleasures of coming together with you and others. Help me to lay aside the cares of my day and week and to learn to appreciate the importance of creating “campfire” moments regularly in my life and in my community. Would you also point out those around me who feel alone and need to be invited to come around the “campfire” too. In Jesus name Amen.