It was, on the one hand, a hard decision to make. Who wants to be the one to cancel a beloved event that has taken place on the East Woodstock Common since 1957? It felt agonizing.
And yet, on the other hand, it was very clear that it was the only practical and prudent decision that was available.
Perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear that a Bible story played into the decision to cancel our Jamboree.
In Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, there are two brothers, Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. Both brothers are trying to be faithful followers of God so each of them carries an offering to place on God’s altar. Without explanation, God accepts the gift of Abel but rejects what Cain has to offer. This infuriates Cain. He is filled with anger so he attacks his brother and kills him.
When God comes looking for the brothers and can only find one, God turns to Cain and wonder about Abel’s whereabouts. Cain doesn’t want this responsibility so he angrily asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
It is significant that the answer is so obvious that God doesn’t even bother voicing it. Instead, God shows what it means to care and especially to care for those in need. Throughout the rest of the Bible, God shows what compassion and care looks like. God protects the stranger, welcomes the outcast, tends to the sick, and searches for those who are lost. God is our keeper. And we are keepers of one another.
That’s why we are canceling the Jamboree this year. We are trying to take care of one another. I might not be sick with Covid-19 and you may not be either. But we could easily infect someone else and that person could spread the virus to others. It is an unacceptable risk.
We are not ending the Jamboree. We are pushing the pause button. We are planning to gather on July 4, 2021 so we can celebrate with renewed gratitude and a whole new appreciation of being together. Until then, we are all called to be each other’s keepers – to visit those who are lonely, to help those who may need a hand, to pick up groceries, to pitch in with chores, to make a phone call or send an email.
The story of Cain and Abel reminds us that our lives are entwined with one another. We are all in this together. We can care for one another. Together, we will go forward to a brighter future.
See you next year!