"[The campers] are more more deeply theological in their orientation than a whole lot of adults in our churches - because they are still passionate about the questions, because they haven't stopped wondering and asking."
Imagine 45 minutes with 86 campers in the upper pavilion. Noise from the pool competing for attention. The rain beginning to fall on one side of the pavilion but, curiously, not on the other. The purpose of the time? To talk about the life of faith. In many settings, that would be a recipe for distraction, boredom and worse. Yesterday during Chaplain's Time with session three of St. George's Camp, however, it was pure blessing.
Penelope Davenport has been guiding the group all session in exploring the theme of "wrestling." They looked at the story of Jacob wresting with the angel and David wrestling with Goliath. They also listed questions with which they themselves are wrestling. It is a long list - two and a half pages, single spaced.
Yesterday I had the privilege of reflecting with the group on how Jesus wrestled with the devil in the wilderness - and how he wrestled again at "an opportune time" when the tempter returned later in his ministry. Things I discovered and learned during the time:
Our campers, at least this group of them, are biblically literate. They know Bible stories in the Old and New Testaments. They make connections between stories.
Our campers, at least this group of them, are passionate about questions. They are articulate in naming questions. Most of the questions they ask have been around as long as humans have been on this earth, but the children ask them with an urgency and passion that is always brand new.
Our campers, at least this group of them, are doing theology. They are thinking about, talking about and passionate about the things of God. They are more more deeply theological in their orientation than a whole lot of adults in our churches - because they are still passionate about the questions, because they haven't stopped wondering and asking.
Our parents and congregations have laid a solid foundation of faith in the lives of these children. There is much for which they should be proud.
Our parents and congregations have a great responsibility ahead of them - the responsibility for helping the children to keep the questions coming, for helping them to live in the questions even when answers are slow, especially when answers don't satisfy. The responsibility not to offer quick, pat, or canned answers that dampen enthusiasm or, worse, end the questioning.
I have great, undampened hope for the future of the Church because of the faithful, passionate, uninhibited questions of our youth.
By Bishop Susan Goff
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.