Reflections of a Middle School Pastor, Day 5

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                               July 20, 2012

The end of a camp week is bittersweet! There has been the deepening of relationships, the establishing of new ones. There has been communal life that has reached new heights as well as other times of wading through “life’s mud.”

On the other side, however, there is the longing to see family and friends back home, to be able to go to Chipotle again, and sleep in one’s own bed.

Campers have the same reaction as Scripture describes the women rushing away from the tomb of Jesus after the angel of the Lord has told them that Jesus was no long er there, he has risen! Matthew 28:8 says “The women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”

The end of a week of middle school church camp means both emotions- fear and joy. There is fear of how this Jesus journey is going to play out back in familiar territory; fear that what they’ve experienced in the past few days doesn’t take hold, fear that an incredible camp experience is simply that…and experience that was at camp and has no other relation to the rest of their life; and there is the fear that knowing Jesus will put them in a different and uncomfortable place with their friends.

There is also, however, joy. It’s a joy that life does has hope; a joy in knowing that a counselor they’ve had really does care about them; a joy in knowing that there are others who share this faith in Christ; a joy because of how their lives have been impacted.

A life of opposites that somehow become intertwined.

Oddly enough, the journey of faith…the authentic life-changing journey of faith…is the weaving together of those opposites. Sometimes we convey the idea, on purpose or not on purpose, that when we have Jesus goes from all bad to all good, that the non-dancers break out into waltzes. Smiley faces are what it’s all about with Jesus!

The reality is that a journey of faith is punctuated with high-five moments and other times that take our legs out from underneath us. Stuff happens to followers of Jesus, just like anyone else.

That, I believe, is the struggle with a loot of middle school students. With Jesus in their life, shouldn’t it all be good?

Are you telling me that with Jesus math is still going to be hard?”

Middle school students struggle with the “happy meal reasoning”; that there is a prize in every box…that life as it is meant to be is always sugar-coated and enunciated with smiley faces.

To journey with them is to let them know that life is not always filled with thirty-flavors of happiness. And that is hard for many of them to handle.

Fear and joy…faith and doubts.

Many of them leave camp and begin to ask the question “Why can’t church be more like camp?” It’s a seeking to stay in a place that has been home for a week and has been safe. Perhaps the question should be rephrased into saying, “Thank God that camp isn’t more like church!”

That’s not a slam on church life, but rather an affirmation of the importance of a week-long camp life. It’s been good!

And I’m ready to sleep in my own bed again!

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Community, Faith, Grace, Parenting, Prayer, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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