Thursday, June 17, 2010

Never too old for story time

Today the children of our church head off to Kid’s Camp. Last year the theme was something about superheroes (see above photo). The theme of this year’s camp is “Slime Time.” Would it be bad of me to say that I’m glad I’m not going? Getting slimed just isn’t as fun as it used to be. I’ve noticed as I get older that many of the things that I found entertaining as a child have lost some their appeal - like dipping everything on my plate in ketchup; or spinning around until I fall over; or going swimming no matter the temperature or how blue my skin has turned. I usually have to learn these lessons the hard way. At last year's camp I enthusiastically hurled myself down the slip-n-slide only to come up with a broken rib!

Paul once wrote that as we grow older we put away childish things, but too often we mistakenly include in the list of childish things to put away not just childish behaviors but anything that went along with childhood itself (like curiosity, or openness to the future, or even faith). Specifically, I’m thinking of how often adults think they’ve outgrown the stories of our faith. Remembering children’s camp or Vacation Bible School, we sometimes come to think of stories like Moses and the crossing of the Red Sea, David and Goliath, Zacchaeus the wee little man, as nothing more than “Children’s stories.” Stories we can put away along with our Legos and Tinker Toys.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is, there are no children’s stories in the Bible, only stories meant for all of God’s children regardless of their age. These stories reveal to every aged person what God is like and what we are like as well. These stories remind all of us that our stories and God’s story go together. Eugene Peterson, in his excellent book, Eat this Book, puts it this way:

The Scriptures, simply by virtue of their narrative form, draw us into a reality in which we find ourselves in touch with the very stuff of our humanity; what we sense in our bones counts. It is a story large with the sense of God, a world suffused with God, a world permeated with God's spoken and unspoken word, his unseen and perceived presence, in such a way that we know that it is the world we were made for; the world in which we most truly belong. It isn't long before we find ourselves imaginatively (imagination and faith are, again, close kin here) entering the story, taking our place in the plot, and following Jesus" (pp 47-48).

I might be glad that I’m getting to avoid “Slime Time” over the next few days. I can honestly say that I’m getting a little old for that. But no matter how old I grow, I’m glad to know, there will never come a day I outgrow story time.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. – Mark, 10:14-15

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