What a “Summer of Learning and New Discoveries” I’m having! And 90% of these new understandings and discoveries are because of our Youth and our Kids! Our Youth went on a wonderful Summer Retreat in late July. Our theme was “the Great Adventure”. We shared with each other some of our favorite memories and experiences, some of our fears, some of our hopes, and other feelings and thoughts. I tell you, there was some very insightful thoughts and mature expressions of faith amongst these youth. Just this past Monday, kids from our congregation and their friends, and some wonderful new faces enjoyed this year’s Vacation Bible Camp. This year’s theme was, “The Limitless Love of God” or “God’s Unlimited Love”. It was said both ways, and the metaphor we used was “space”. We learned about God’s commandments to Love God with our whole selves, Love our neighbors, Jesus’ command that we love one another, that God so loves this would and all the people in it that God’s son gave up himself so we can all be in relationship with God, and that nothing can ever separate us from this love. That’s an amazingly limitless Love!
Here are some of the lessons and discoveries these youth and children taught me or reminded me of.
1) First, that we have amazing youth connected to our congregation. The youth trip was filled with an equal number of youth who have previously participated in our activities and meetings, and those participating for the first time. It was one of the largest number of youth on the retreat in recent memory! The conversations I heard and had with these young people were amazingly candid, truthful, and insightful. The courage some of these youth have is amazing. This courage was displayed in their sharing and in their afternoon at the Challenge/High Ropes course we visited. Heights are not easy for many people, especially when your 30+ feet in the air on just the top of a pole or walking on a cable stretched between towering White Pines. It was wonderful to watch and listen to these youth cheering and encouraging one another on! One young lady who is terribly anxious about heights was in tears as she climbed to the top of that pole, but with her friends shouting encouragement – she made it! There was that type of moment time and time again as the group achieved things they didn’t know they were capable of! Truly, a great adventure.
2) Our GRUMC Kids are inquisitive and intelligent! Now this is not something new I learned but was reminded of. Our theme, as I mentioned was the limitlessness of God’s love. We compared this to the limitlessness of space. As limitless as space seems to be, God’s love is even more limitless!! I was thrilled to see the kids lean into this concept and in our lessons talk about how we can share this love, how this love can help us – even in the tough times, how this love is something we need to share – even with people who are mean or are bullies or are the ones at school that people make fun of! They talked about how they can support one another – how the new friends they made at Vacation Bible Camp are friends they can look for in this up coming school year.
One of the exciting moments of the Camp was our Zoom meetings with NASA engineers from Langley Air Force Base near Washington, DC. It was really cool to meet with these people and the kids really ate it up! The questions they asked really impressed the engineers! After the camp they contacted me and shared how much they enjoyed the experience and how engaged and inquisitive the children were!
3) Now those first two were things I was reminded of, but one of the new pieces of information I learned at VBC is that the Sun is not yellow – it’s white. Now when I paused to think about that, it made sense. The Sun looks yellow from earth but that’s because of the distortion our atmosphere creates looking through it. In space, the sun is white; its real color. It reminded me of Proverbs 3: 5- 6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God, and God will make your paths straight.” In our lives the world can distort things. We need to trust in God and the ways Jesus calls us to live to have abundant and joy-filled lives. The way the world sees things can be distorted and lead us in ways that are destructive to ourselves and others. When we trust God and look at the world through eyes of justice and love; the eyes of Jesus, we find our lives have more meaning, less chaos, and are more full of joy
4) One of the other things I learned was that “Gaming” helps teach the truth of being the body of Christ! Who knew? Several of the youth are gamers – folks who play video games. Now these are no “Space Invaders” or “Pack Man”! These games can be played by numerous people in places all over the world together working toward a common goal: free the princess, kill all the zombies or aliens, whatever. During our retreat I mentioned that we are all One Body in Christ and that weaving and sharing our gifts together, we can more fully be the church God intended and work together to achieve the things of God. One of the boys in the group spent about 15 minutes sharing how “gaming” together with friends from all over the world is a good example to the church on how to bring together a variety of gifts from folks “all over” to, as he said, “Get done the things of love and justice that need to be done for God in this world.” (End quote). Pretty impressive.
Well, it’s been a very busy and blessed Summer at GRUMC. Thank you to the youth, kids, and members of the congregation who have helped me learn new things and be reminded of others. You’ve all made it such a wonderful season of learning, love, community, and blessing. I hope you enjoyed the last weeks of Summer with family, friend, adventure, fun, lessons and discoveries. By the time you’ll be reading this Scho** will have started!
Be God’s Pastor Jim