Nurturing Our Faith Means Living Out Love

April 26, 2018

 Reflections on the Seven Foundations for Camp & Retreat Ministries

Foundation 3: "Nurture Christian Faith and Discipleship"

by Dan Benson, Director of Alton L. Collins Retreat Center

This one should be obvious for a retreat center, right? I mean, what is the point of a Christian retreat center if not to provide a place and ways to nurture people in their faith? But the part of this that I want to reflect on with you today is the nature of Christian faith and discipleship.

Throughout the history of Christianity there have been many ways that people viewed faith and discipleship. The way that resonates most strongly with me is that Christianity is a path of love. Love for God, neighbor, and self. Love for enemies. Love for the least and the lost. Love that is even strong enough to tell people that they are harming others and love doesn't let hate creep into that admonishment. From this perspective, Christian faith and discipleship is about love in one’s heart and in one’s actions.

This love is what gives meaning to our work of gracious hospitality at Alton L. Collins Retreat Center. Grace, the unmerited love of God, is the core of our gracious hospitality. Our work of nurturing Christian faith and discipleship exists in an environment of love. This love provides the support so that the transformational work of growing in faith can happen more readily.

If all this talk about love has you thinking that life here at Alton L. Collins Retreat Center is all rainbows and unicorns, I’ve got to tell you that offering love can be hard work. There are days when it feels that I spend half my time with a toilet plunger in hand. There are days when we can’t seem to get any meal to be quite right. There are days when it seems we move from one miscommunication to the next. And yet, it is precisely on those days that we need to remind ourselves most firmly of why we do our work. It is on those days that we hold on to the knowledge that, no matter what happens, if we still extend and receive grace and abide in love, then by doing so we are living out our faith, and doing our imperfect best to help others do the same.
 
How are you doing in growing in your Christian faith and expressing that faith through your discipleship? If you would like some companionship in this journey, then contact us at the Oregon-Idaho Camp and Retreat Ministries. We don’t promise for everything to be perfect, but we will hold you in love on your way.

-- Rev. Dan Benson

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A partnership between The Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church
and The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon