Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Legend of the Poinsettia

Maria and Pablo lived in a tiny village in Mexico. Because Christmastime at their house did not include many gifts, Maria and Pablo looked forward to the Christmas festivities at the village church with great joy and anticipation.

To honor the birth of Christ, the church displayed a beautiful manger that drew crowds of admirers. Villagers walked miles to admire the manger, bringing lovely, expensive gifts for the Baby Jesus. As Maria and Pablo watched the villagers place their gifts in the soft hay around the manger, they felt sad. They had no money to buy gifts for their family and no money to buy a gift for the Baby Jesus.

One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo walked to the church for that evening's services, wishing desperately that they had a gift to bring. Just then, a soft glowing light shone through the darkness, and the shadowy outline of an angel appeared above them.

Maria and Pablo were afraid, but the angel comforted them, instructing them to pick some of the short green weeds that were growing by the road. They should bring the plants to the church, the angel explained, and place them near the manger as their gift to the Baby Jesus. Then just as quickly as she had appeared, the angel was gone, leaving Maria and Pablo on the road looking up into the dark sky. Confused but excited, the children filled their arms with large bunches of the green weeds and hurried to the church.

When the children entered the church, many of the villagers turned to stare. As Maria and Pablo began placing the weeds around the manger, some of the villagers laughed at them. "Why are those children putting weeds by the manger?" they asked each other. Maria and Pablo began to feel embarrassed and ashamed of their gift to the Baby Jesus, but they stood bravely near the manger, placing the plants on the soft hay, as the angel had instructed.

Suddenly, the dull green leaves on the tops of the plants began to turn a beautiful shade of red, surrounding the Baby with beautiful blooms. The laughing villagers became silent as they watched the green plants transform into the lovely star-shaped crimson flowers we call poinsettias. As they watched the weeds bloom before their eyes, Maria and Pablo knew they had no reason to be ashamed anymore. They had given the Baby Jesus the only gift they could--and it was the most beautiful gift of all.
-Story by Stephanie Herbek

Don't forget to give from the heart this season and give the gift of camp to friends and family. There are a multitude of programs throughout the conference that are sure to delight your loved ones. Visit to check them out.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Meet Steve

"The cross and flame on the boathouse caught my eye while driving down US 101 years ago when we were living in Gig Harbor, WA. I recall being impressed that there was a United Methodist Church camp situated on a lake next to the ocean. I was directing camps for the Boy Scouts of America at the time and thought that it might be exciting to serve at a camp like that someday. Years passed and we moved to Spokane, Colorado, and Maine. Wanting to move back to the Northwest to be closer to Melinda's family, I answered the Camp Director position posting for Camp Magruder. Coming out to interview for the position, I discovered that Camp Magruder was the United Methodist camp that I had seen on that lake by the ocean years before. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways." Steve began work as the Camp Director at Camp Magruder in December 2007 with his wife and three children joining him after the 2007-2008 school year wrapped up.

"I love camp. 9,000 people visit every year and it is a joy to make their acquaintance and to be their host in this remarkable ministry setting. I want people to know that a lot of people who they will probably never meet had a vision, reached deep into their pockets, and through no small effort worked to build this wonderful ministry site called Camp Magruder. People should know that hundreds of volunteers shape that vision for thousands of campers every year by serving as counselors, deans, event coordinators, chaperones, and seasonal staff. Still others reach into their pockets and give a portion of their resources to the ministry so that future generations may come to know and love Christ at Camp Magruder."

"My hair seems to grow a bit whiter with each passing year and the mountains I climb aren't quite as tall but my passion for camping, like the embers of the campfires of my youth, fanned by countless people, is a fire that burns within, a fire sparking embers that I hope others will catch and carry into the future."

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Starfish

There's a story about a little boy at the seashore. As he walked along the sand, he noticed hundreds of starfish that had been washed high up onto the beach the night before by a fierce storm. He knew they would never make it back to the water on their own, so he started picking them up one by one and carrying them back to the water so they would live. His older brother came along and said, "That's stupid. Why are you even bothering to do that? There are so many of them, it's not going to make any difference." The little boy looked down at the starfish in his hand, dropped it into the water, and said, "Well, it makes a difference to that one."

Matthew 25:37-40 (The Message)
Then those "sheep" are going to say, "Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?" Then the King will say, "I'm telling the solemn truth: whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me you did it to me."

August H. Strong reflected on our ability to often miss God’s unexpected deeds. The day before he died, Strong wrote the following, “When you come to the end of your life, will you say that you have never seen God? The answer must be that you have never seen anything else.”

We invite you to slow down this busy season to go find God. Look in the crowded stores, at school, in conversations with strangers, during volunteer opportunities, in your families faces; in your everyday life. How awesome and different the world would be if everyone trained themselves to look for and serve God in everthing they did?