Yesterday, Rev. Terry Small, director of Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca (which is actually redundant, since these letters stand for Iowa District East Camp, I think–kinda like the movie “Mickey Blue Eyes” where they have a restaurant called “The La Tratoria”–let the reader understand) came to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Iowa Falls here and preached for us, and then talked about the Camp during a hot dog lunch. I thought more people would have come, but considering that last week we just had Easter and an Easter breakfast, perhaps it was not the best timing.
At any rate, it was good to have Pastor Small here with us. The purpose of this post, however, is to praise the work that Pastor Small and the camp are doing for our District. I served as Pastor for the Week there last summer and can’t tell you how impressed I was with the staff, the activities, and the facilities. Every day that I was there, we began with Morning prayer at the outdoor chapel. The Pastor for the Week leads this and afternoon prayer, and preaches to the campers regarding the theme. We say a portion of the Catechism, we sing a hymn, and in the evening, the theme is reinforced with a skit and a closing devotion by the pastor. Counselors were very respectful of the pastoral office, and campers were given a chance to play “stump the pastor.”
Pastor Small and this Camp really get the distinction between “play time” and “prayer time.” There is play time–lots of it. There is also prayer time. Rather than try to make prayer time fun and games, they keep it reverent and holy. For meals the kids learn Luther’s meal prayers from the Catechism. I had no problem sending my kids there last summer because I knew that they were going to be receiving the very best of what our Church has to offer, not the least. They get exactly what I posted about previously–that our Orandi (prayer, worship, song, etc.) forms and influences our Credendi. They get that we are arming our kids for battle, not with spiritual Nerf guns, but with spiritual bazookas. You can sing “Pharaoh, Pharaoh,” all you want, and it is a fun song to sing, but the Enemy is not harmed by it. Now, take a simple children’s hymn like “I am Jesus’ little lamb,” and that, my friends, is a spiritual bazooka. “I am Jesus’ little lamb, ever glad at heart I am…” Satan can’t stand to hear such words. You are not Jesus’ little lamb. You belong to me! He stole you from me! How dare you say such words! I hate your gladness of heart.
Of course, there are others too. “Salvation unto us has come, by God’s free grace and favor. Good works cannot avert our doom, they help and save us never. Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone, who did for all the world atone, he is our one redeemer!” “A Mighty Fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon…” “God’s own child I gladly say it, I am baptized into Christ.” These are the songs of battle. These are the songs that inflict mortal wounds on the Enemy. These are the hymns that will help a Christian do battle against the devil, the world, and the sinful nature, which is why I strongly recommend Io-Dis-E-Ca to anyone who lives close enough to get your kids there. They’ll have fun, no doubt about it. They will play hard. But they will also worship and pray in a way that will support, rather than destroy, what you are trying to teach them in your church.