50 Years at Lake Agape: What I Learned From Tim Bock

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Editor’s Note: Today is day 48 of our countdown to the start of Camp Meeting and celebrating 50 years at Lake Agape. If you have a memory you’d like to share, please email blog@delanco.org.

You just can’t get the sand from the Lake Agape beach out of your shoes.

I was one of those kids who started going to camp before we were officially allowed to. The history of the camp in our family goes back to when my mother worked in the kitchen when the camp meeting was in the town of Delanco. So as far as I can remember, camp was always a part of my life. Whether it was through a weekend church retreat or the weekly camps, Delanco Camp has been a formative and life-changing place for me.

I met Tim Bock when I was a kid. If you are younger you probably recognize his name from the Tim Bock Memorial Scholarship that helps create funding for students to participate in camp. If you ask a Delanco person that is starting to grey in their hair, and get along in years, then Tim was an icon and fixture at camp in their memory. The stories about Tim are legendary and his impact was powerful. But most of all, many simply considered him a friend. The stories are best told around the campfire or on “porch parties,” but here are some of my memories of Tim.

Speaking the Truth
Tim was a guy that at first glance didn’t really want to be your friend. His dry humor and wit often left some feeling uneasy about this tall, weird, skinny guy. As a child, I remember that Tim was our babysitter who didn’t want to give my sister ice cream just for the fun of it. He also wasn’t shy about speaking the truth in love to you, and sometimes that can come across very hard. In our family, like in many others, Tim was able to show up at a crucial point where we needed him the most.

When I was a junior camper, Tim was my counselor. I remember one night after he finally settled all of the crazy fourth grade boys down, he said, “Guys, I love you.” I still remember the bunk I was in when he said that. I remember the feeling of God’s presence and love come to me through Tim’s simple, yet powerful, words. I was loved and Tim helped me to truly know it. You may never know the great power that a simple word of love can have on a person, but I encourage you to share love with others. It will never leave my memory. Though a lot of time has passed through the years, the memory of Tim’s love will never fade.

As a young adult, Tim was the one who drove me out to work at camp for the summer. I had spent several years away from the church and camp, so I was a bit nervous to go back to a familiar (but at the same time new) place. It was in this summer that I met some great friends and connected closer to God than ever before. I would meet a lifelong friend that I would spend time at Asbury with (I also coincidentally lived in Tim’s apartment in college). I would meet a future seminary professor that summer at camp, though I wasn’t called into ministry at that time. That week of Camp Meeting alone (of which he was the dean) was life-altering enough.

The Most Important Message
As many of you may know, Tim has been in glory for several years now. I was a senior in college about to approach finals when I gave Tim a call. He didn’t sound the same, and we both knew that his time on this earth was running short. He was too weak to speak much, so I chatted a bit about upcoming plans. He was so affirming and gracious. I knew while I was talking with him that this would be our last conversation. I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t know what to say. So I said simply what he taught to me, “Tim, I love you.” With his struggling voice he said, “I love you too.”

Many of our friends can tell funny stories of late-night antics at camp and share wonderful memories of Tim’s short life span. My witness to him is probably too simple to share: I loved Tim Bock. And I live in the present moment knowing that he loved me, too. Love changes people. It changed me. Delanco is a place that is filled with great memories, but even more, great people. In its 50-year celebration, let me encourage you to share the simple message of love. You will honor Tim in it. But more so, you will honor the Savior that Tim loved and served, Jesus Christ.

Have a memory of Tim Bock? Share it in the comments below.

Join us at camp for the Lake Agape 50th Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, June 6, at 5 p.m. Click here for more info.

Advent Devotion: Worship the newborn King

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Matthew’s Gospel shares with us how the scholars of Jesus’ day knew where He was to be born. It is almost as if you can hear them say to Herod, “In Bethlehem in Judea – of course- don’t you remember the prophecy?” But it is the Magi from the East, these strange fellows following a star in search of hope beyond hope, that actually make it to the place where the newborn King was born. They didn’t want to just know where He was for the sake of knowing, they wanted to know so they could go and worship Him.

I don’t know if we truly see the humor, irony or just weird setting this must have been. Imagine that you are Mary and Joseph at this point. Here come these guests who wish to see your child. You escort them back to the nursery and they kneel down next to Jesus’ crib/manger/pack-and-play, offer Him gifts, and worship Him as King. Although you (as Mary and Joseph) know that God has a special plan for this child, it has got to be a bit odd seeing them open their treasures to your baby, who is still so weak that he relies on your protection, and placing their hope in Him. Your baby is King to them. A King not just in knowledge, but in Hope.

Spend time to worshipping God this Christmas. The Magi worshipped a newborn baby King, a seemingly insignificant thing. Maybe the things that call us or to worship God seem insignificant at the time- worship anyway.

Sages, leave your contemplations,

Brighter visions beam afar;

Seek the great Desire of nations;

Ye have seen His natal star.
Come and worship,

Michael Smith has served at the camp in many capacities over the years and is the pastor at Tabernacle UMC in Erma.

Lent Reflection: A place for you

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Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am, there you may be also.
-John 14

What would you say? Honestly- what would you say to your closest friends the very night you would be betrayed, denied, and forsaken by all of them? What would you say on your very last night here on earth? I don’t know about you – but when we understand the context of when Jesus said these words from John 14, it is amazing to hear his perspective. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’, came from a man who later that evening would be grieved unto death in the Garden of Gethsemane. How troubled was his heart? In the moment of when we would want Jesus to be afraid and confide in his friends, (which most of us would want to do), he begins to talk about preparing a place for them. Jesus is almost calm about the upcoming crucifixion.

But I do not believe that His calm has anything to do with his psychological or emotional state. I believe that this was a time when Jesus knew He was fulfilling His purpose. In as much as He tried to explain it to the disciples throughout His ministry, Jesus took one more opportunity to explain to them about who He is, what he came to do, and what he is going to do. He revealed his purpose to them. Later in John’s account, he shows us how Jesus even prayed for the disciples and us too! It’s true. Jesus prayed for you and me when he prayed for the ones who would believe because of the witness of the disciples. That is you and me. John’s Gospel takes 5 out of 21 chapters to detail Jesus’ last words to his disciples. It must be important. If you had just one last statement to make, what would you say?

Michael Smith is a camp alum who has worked on staff and served on the board at camp. He is the pastor of Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Erma. Image credit: Kristin Nelson, via CreationSwap