Twenty five years ago I spent a glorious week at the Creation Festival in Mt. Union, PA enjoying music from people like Steve Taylor, Leslie Phillips, Mylon LeFevre and Michael W. Smith. As a 17 year old kid who loved music and had not attended many concerts live at that point in my life it was practically nirvana. Being in the midst of that huge crowd seemed a little like what heaven might be like one day as we all worshiped together regardless of church affiliation, age, race or gender.
The past week, I had the chance to go back to that hallowed ground with my two boys and experience it all over again. My how things have changed over the years and yet how familiar it all felt. This time we listened to bands like Switchfoot, Thousand Foot Krutch and Skillet. As a parent this, I seemed to notice things that slipped my attention the last time that I was there. Instead of seeing the sun as a great way to get that perfect tan, I was looking for any place to find shade so that I did not pass out. For some reason, I did not seem to mind sitting two thirds of the way back from the stage in the crowd on the hillside instead of insisting on waiting for hours so that I could stand through a concert and get within feet of my favorite artists.
Sleeping in a tent with my boys and one of their best friends wasn’t quite the same as sleeping in a tent with my friends in 1985, though the air mattresses this time did help a lot. I even agreed to assist in one of the great Creation traditions that I must not have been aware of the last time that I attended the festival or may have started some time in the years since. At 5AM in the morning, one brave person in each group normally lines up along the side of the seating area to have the “privilege” of laying down a tarp to secure that perfect spot for their group to sit in the evening. At 5:30AM a person dressed as Darth Vader (light saber and all) gives a signal and everyone is allowed to enter the field and “walk” to their spot. If anyone is caught running, the entire group has to start again. Fortunately, no one was caught running the morning that I volunteered to help our fearless group leader, Mike Figgins. Having gotten up at 5AM was challenging enough (especially after not sleeping much the night before), but staying up until 1Am in the morning with my guys was nearly impossible. Apparently I was observed sleeping with my mouth wide open while sitting in a chair trying to read in the shade at several points in the day – it is all a bit of a blur to me now.
We camped with a great group of people from Church of the Savior in Wayne and some formerly from Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in Paoli. It was a blessing to get to know these new families and to be a part of their Creation experience, especially since many of then were Creation veterans and knew the ropes already. Because this group had been attending Creation together for so many years they had progressively gotten better and better tent locations for the group itself. This year, we were right next to the back of the main stage area which made walking to our tarp and more importantly for the kids – getting autographs – a lot easier than when I had attended Creation before.
In a day and age when everything is digital and the games that many kids play are on line, it was great to disconnect from the grid, have no TV access and be able worship in the midst of God’s incredible handiwork. As if to make this point abundantly clear to me, God shut off my cell phone (yes they actually have cell phone coverage in the midst of this remote area). For some unknown reason, my phone shut down on the second day and would not restart regardless of being recharged. Interestingly, just after I got home and was preparing to go to the AT&T store, it mysteriously began working again. Clearly God wanted me to pay attention to what was going on around me and to stop texting. With this new “freedom” thrust on me by the Lord, I was really able to enjoy the music, conversations and even the speakers in a deeper way. Much to my wife’s surprise, I actually attended a parenting seminar held in the shaded woods in the afternoon and learned a lot.
Even though a lot has changed over the years at Creation, the fun is still the same. The highlight of my time then and now was hearing the music and meeting new people. For those who have never attended before, I highly recommend it. Just remember that God works in mysterious ways and may choose to send rain and create a mudbowl (as has happened in years past) or make it blisteringly hot. Either way, He will get your attention whether you are 17 or 42. Thank you Pastor Harry Thomas for creating this event and for making it better every year. I look forward to attending it again and maybe taking my grandkids some day.
The view of Creation from the lookout mountain above
Kenny, Mike and Misha (Kenny’s friend)
The beautiful blue sky that we experienced ever day. What a wonderful and creative God we serve.