15-18 April 2022
On Friday afternoon of the 15th of April, on a gloomy overcast day with rain threatening, our group of young and not so young converged on the Northcliffe Bush Camp and set up our tents and caravans. We had stayed at this camp once before, and enjoyed it very much. It is peaceful and well set out, with whimsically-built and surprisingly comfortable amenities cobbled together from salvaged vehicle and building materials. It is surrounded by bush, with some lovely walking trails cut through.
Our topic for the camp was music, and the first meeting was worship on Friday night, taken by Hannah Lausevic. Hannah is in her first year of a music education degree and lent us her music expertise by explaining the fundamentals of music. She briefly covered rhythm, melody, harmony, written music, music history, and some more complicated music terms such as syncopation and others that I’ve forgotten the names of. She nicely illustrated each point by referencing a hymn we were all familiar with to show us how the technicalities worked. Most of us went to bed a little or a lot wiser; some took the opportunity for some more personalised music instruction after the meeting.
On Sabbath morning, more people arrived and joined in the first event of the day, which was a group discussion on Biblical principles of music. Each group were given a list of questions that they needed to answer from the Bible. The questions covered the principles from the Bible that govern the music we choose to listen to; lyrics; percussion; the effect of our music choices on our mental, physical and spiritual health; and the effect of music on our relationship with God. When the groups reconvened to present their conclusions, there were some common threads running through the answers to each question. There were also some interesting differences in some of the conclusions reached by each group. Suffice it to say that music is not a simple topic.
In the afternoon, an outing was scheduled, but the rain falling now and then put a damper on that. Someone went and fetched a portable fireplace and firewood, so we were able to set up a gathering place that we could warm ourselves up beside. It attracted a couple of nearby campers after dark, who joined us to chat and socialise. We enjoyed ourselves very much, toasting our toes and yarning, until it started raining yet again and scared us into our tents. All except a bunch of youth and an eager older chaperone, who conspired together to set up an indoor socialisation area in the camp kitchen, complete with cooking lessons and a deep and meaningful discussion that kept them talking into the wee hours.
The next morning, we didn’t cut any slack for the sleepy youth who had brought their tiredness down upon their own heads, and we began the morning meeting. The youth were invited to bring their music choices that they knew were wrong or were not sure if they were wrong or not, and we would use the Biblical principles we had discussed the day before to ascertain their appropriateness for a God-follower. We tried, we really did. But we concluded again that music is not a simple topic. Everyone had their own ideas as to whether the music was good or bad, the elements that made it God-honouring or not, and if it was appropriate for a Christian to choose to listen to. We left a lot of the music to examine at a later date, and retired in defeat for lunch.
After lunch, we went on an outing to Mount Chudalup, a granite monolith that had a very comfortable walking track to the top, with incredible 360-degree views over the surrounding countryside and coast. We spent quite a while at the windy top, taking fun photos. Then we went on to drive to the beach and had a nice walk there until the threatening rain became more than threatening and turned into reality. But not before some rather spectacular leaps by the children from the edge of a sand dune down to the beach. It looked like so much fun that some adults tried it too. I can confirm that it was a lot of fun.
That evening, we had a cozy end-of-camp fireside talk/discussion taken by Jonathan Thiel about how to give up music that we have learned to love, but have been convicted that it is not a God-honouring choice. Some shared their experiences with relinquishing favourite types of music, and the power of God that enabled them to do so. We were encouraged to make God first in our lives, so that our decisions and music tastes are sanctified and changed by the renewing of our minds.
Some people packed up and left that evening, others stayed until the next morning, when we had worship together and then spent the next few hours packing for the homeward journey. Chloe Brown kept the children amused and excited with a treasure hunt through the campground, after which they ended up with a nice stash of fun gifts.
As we all made our way home, we were inspired to research more deeply into the topic of music choices that would preserve our connection with God and prevent the devil from making inroads into our lives with music that will separate us from God.
~ Reported by Inneka Lausevic