Blessing Ceremony.
I knew from the beginning that the process of saying goodbye to Eastercamp would be long and painful. That the heart breaking and life robbing power of sorrow would need careful shepherding, especially from one as me, who knows the value of good ritual. Although it took some weeks to feel ready, when the moment came, this was a unique and special part of soul taking shape and being restored again.

I’m sharing this because I always ended to grieve as well as I could, because I think the mold of crafting Ebernezers and symbols in our daily life is important and because I suspect that there are others who will find some comfort from seeing that my grief is just as deep and sorrowful as they understand it to be, but that it is expressed on a foundation of hope that cannot be shaken. The process of writing this ceremony took place over a number of weeks of research, thought and contemplation. The final version took two hours to write and an hour to perform.

My only sorrow were those who could not be present.. as surely my whole tribe should have been there.. however, in my heart, all resided. Those that shared my intimate breathing spaces that night were true, honest and good soulmates who served and ministered the Grace of God to me so exceptionally well, that it is they who should be leading church and not I.

I am the Redeemed.

Opening Prayer.
(In choosing which prayer form to base this opening prayer on, I drew from the Jewish Kiddish Prayer, the traditional mourners prayer. It’s essentially a prayer of sanctification that proclaims God above all things, and re-centres all things on Him. It’s moderately adapted here for a Messianic perspective.)

Exalted and sanctified is God’s great name in the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon. Amen.

Amen, may his great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honoured, elevated and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are spoken in the world; Amen.

May there be great peace from heaven, and life, for us and all people. Amen.
Friends say: Amen

The Lighting of the White Candles
(I chose nine white candles to represent each year. One of us lit the centre candle to represent the presence of Yahweh in our midst from the beginning and then each of the white candles was lit by taking the flame of the Yahweh candle out to the individuals. I lit the candle and spoke of my memories and thoughts regarding each year. I liked the representation that God sparked each individual event as something unique. The candles were arranged in a concave arc around the Yahweh candle in the centre.)

Spoken Aloud:
These candles represent each year I spent with Eastercamp. I’m going to light each one and remember the joys, sorrows, mistakes, victories.

Year2000. this year was the year of What Could Be. Dreamed and brainstormed how to do talent quests, mudwrestling and streamline the registration process. Fell in love with Finlay Park and the faithfulness of God’s work there. Came to know the Ruach Elohim closely.

Year2001 = Everyday, this was the first year of telling the chronological story of the Easter. I learnt that the Gospel speaks for itself and that noone remains unchanged. The key speaker went on to radically change his life direction. Created the emblem of the cross (in wood) that some people can still be seen wearing.

Year2002 = Choose One, Just One, One. This was the first year I had sole charge of programming, including working closely with the worship band. I learnt the power of sound and the importance of people. I said goodbye to my mentor Wok and promised to stay true to the first values of Eastercamp. God, People, Spirit – for the sake of others. Staying small, local community.

Year2003 = The Hardest Camp. Real Life. This was my year of hardship. I had to prove my worth to the team, and to myself. I made mistakes but had triumphs. I wrestled with my desire for leadership. I found love and friendship in the arms of team and started to build my own for the first time. I dreamed of something more. Said goodbye to Finlay Park. Led communion at the waters edge.

Year2004 = New things. Revolution. Created linear programming and storytelling throughout the whole theme of camp. Revolutionised how I created the programme themes and concepts. Fought hard and lost for the creative direction. Did stage design and lighting plots, sewed 150m of draping for the stage. Communion is awful, but sanctuary space brilliant. We live on the edge. Fought to maintain the values of camp, including local and small community focus.

Year2005 = His Name Is Freedom. Picked up on the theme of social justice and change for the first truly significant time. Used massive screens and multimedia across every session, hand designed the backdrops for these screens and made 30% of the media myself. Dreamed of 100%. Dreamed of production values. Oversaw the whole creative direction including promo and merch. Saw significant leap in numbers and collective buyin from youth pastors. Programming team continued to grow. Significant moment with drama team, rob k and luther king video. Communion is the most beautiful thing even seen, thanks to Stu.

Year2006 = Soli Deo Gloria. Lost the creative battle but redesigned according to Luthers Creeds. Produced 4 or 5 minimovies, totally 50% of the media content. Great team – working with Production company for the first time and changing the room layout significantly. New video team, new faces, team growing and share significant ministry time together on Sunday morning. Sanctuary space is over the whole weekend finishing with communion on light boxes. Goofing off at 3am in the morning I give thanks for my team. Wrote the values that still guide camp now.

Year2007 = Love Wins. Love does win. My team is beautiful and I have found my place as a creative leader. The programme booklet is some of my best work, the speakers are a brilliant combination. I give thanks for Marko, for Brian Winslade, heroes and friends that are part of my deep joy. Communion is epic, serving 3100 people individually – no crew person misses out. I learn to trust my instincts and we achieve the unbelievable on a ridiculous budget. Video is hard – relationship matters more than anything. God is beautifully present even though completely different.

Year2008 = HopeFull. Part two of the trilogy. 100% kiwi speakers, including Rob K and Sam H – taking risks on old and new. 100% home made media, including work I am immensely proud of. Team is incredible again – continues to grow and I am thankful for the presence of such dear friends in the midst of my sorrow. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. I remember that it is all about people. Leading the response on Saturday night and fulfilling the forgiven vision is a moment that rests in my heart forever. I am defined by these windows to the heart of heaven.

Nine Rubies
(On the inside of the arc of white candles, closest to the Yahweh candle were nine small red votive candles, in front of each individual white candle and each representing a lesson learned from the year. I named the lesson out loud and then my friends took turns in lighting the ruby candle from from the white candle it represented. The ruby represents Wisdom or a Lesson. My friends then prayed a blessing or affirmation on each lesson.)

The first Wisdom lesson, was Belief. The hope of the impossible, the dream of what could be.
(Friends say: May you always dream with the Lord.)

The second Wisdom lesson, was Story. The story changes the storyteller, but remains unchanged. Truth brings light and hope.
(Friends say: May the Story continue to change you, and you continue to tell the Story.)

The third Wisdom lesson, was Worship. The Lord truly inhabits the praises of his people, and his presence changes lives.
(Friends say: May you always worship and draw others and yourself near to the Presence of the Lord.)

The fourth Wisdom lesson, was Trust. The Lord spoke to me in visions, laying out his promises for my future hope and his faithfulness.
(Friends say: May you continue to trust that the Lord will fulfil his promises and that all these things will come to pass.)

The fifth Wisdom lesson, was Create. We are made in the image of a Creator God. His creativity surprised, reengages and sustains us with new mercy, new grace.
(Friends say: May your creativity always draw you back to the Father, to the Truth of His Love for the sake of Others. May your creativity bring Him pleasure and honour and glory forever.)

The sixth Wisdom lesson, was Know Yourself. The Lord has created me with purpose and skills. My confidence in these things rests on His confidence in me.
(Friends say: May you always know that you have been made well, with goodness, purpose and intention. The Lord will let no good thing go to waste nor leave anything unfinished. May you know his restoring and redemptive power always, and the mercy of His hand.)

The seventh Wisdom lesson, was With People. The Lord brings us together so that we reflect his Image more truly. We achieve more together. People make the impossible possible. To do things well gather people.
(Friends say: May you always find yourself at the centre of people and for the sake of people. That you will bring healing and find healing in the midst of the Bride. May you love people deeply and well and be loved.)

The eighth Wisdom lesson, was Love. His Love is pervading and the truth of my heartsong for always. His love is deep and rich and wide. His Love is the truest message, the highest call, it sets people free.
(Friends say: May the Love of the Lord lead you, guide you and sustain you. May it always be the first notes of your song, the depths of your heart, the fibre of your soul. May this Love be the message of your whole life so that others would come to know Him and for His glory.)

The ninth Wisdom lesson, was Hope. Hope remains as an anchor to the soul, when all else seems faint. Hope makes change and brings light. Where there is Hope there is always something that has not yet come to pass.
(Friends say: May you know the peace of Almighty God, the author of eternity and the foundation of Life. He holds life within himself and breathes Life into us. He holds you imprinted in the palm of his hand and holds you as he holds the stars in place.)

The Blessing of the Ring

(The ring is made of rose gold with nine rubies set in white gold in the centre. The rubies represent wisdom, the gold the costliness of what has been given and the placement of the rubies in the ring, the representation of a season that is part of an unending whole – the eternal hope. The finance for the ring was a gift from a number of parties.)

Spoken Aloud.
E hi noa ana, na te aroha: Although it is small, it is a gift of love.

This ring symbolises the deep love the Father has for me, and his provision, mercy, grace and Wisdom he has afforded to me. There is nothing I have that he has not given me, and nothing I am that is not His. In wearing this ring, I will remember Him, what I have learnt and the Hope of what is to come. I will remember that I am loved.

Friends Pray & Share:

My friends that were present offered words that were deep, true, beautiful and full of hope, care and love. I will store them in my heart always.

Closing Prayer.
(Although people had the opportunity to share earlier, I had asked Stu to specifically craft some words for me in this moment. All priests need priestly guidance themselves, and as Easter has been my levitical offering each year, I turned to a fellow Levite to help guide me through the closing moments of this ceremony. His words are perfect in every way, seeing both the heart and depth and acknowledging true things of the Father God. I added the closing Amen of the friends.)

my heavenly father, i pause to think of you in your throne room. (pause)

events are but tiles on the mosaic of history.
they are not history on their own.
they are reference points
of success and failure,
triumph and weakness,
joy and fear.

carefully crafted and sculpted by my being.

part of me is given to these events, and part of me draws from them.

the sense of ‘me’ has been forged.

the events have given to my character, and the events have drawn from my character.
the events have carefully crafted and sculpted my being
joy and fear,
triumph and weakness,
success and failure,
refer me to the fibre of my being
character is not history
character appreciates the mosaic

I stand
in the presence of the Almighty God,
as testimony to His presence through all of this time
I seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness
And as testimony to His presence for the rest of time
as an agent of the Almighty God,
I am.

Friends say: Amen