August 04, 2008

The Next Stage

When the rattlesnake sent everyone scurrying, the campfire was just about over, anyway. The only thing left to do was roast marshmallows. That kept the campers near the fire, which, in turn, kept the snake away. At least, we hoped it would.

After the marshamallows were roasted, I stood up and announced that some of the campers would not be returning to their cabins with everyone else. I then read a list of names. It didn't take the campers long to realize that the names I was reading were those of our 6th graders. After the names were read, I dismissed the 4th and 5th graders to their cabins, and addressed the 6th graders who remained.

The original plan was to take them to the top of Inspiration Point, site of the night photograph with the cross (Day 3 below). But because it was late, and everyone was nervous about snakes, we stayed where we were.

I said to the kids, "This is the last time you will be at Junior Camp. Next year, you will be invited to attend Chi-Rho [Chi-Rho is the name for our church's middle-school ministry].

"At the beginning of the week, at this very campfire circle, we read Genesis 2, and talked about how God created humanity out of the dust of the earth. Out of dust and the Spirit, you were born. Now that you are at the stage in your life when you are saying goodbye to childhood and hello to adolescence. The little child in you is dying, and a new person, a more mature person, is being born."

I then invited the kids to come up, one at a time, and receive a smudge of mud on their hands, to symbolize the birth of the new person they are becoming. I also presented them with necklaces with wooden circles, upon which were painted the Chi-Rho symbol (an X & P superimposed on one another). I asked if anyone knew what "Chi-Rho" meant. Most probably thought it was the name of a city in Egypt, so I explained how Chi and Rho were two Greek letters which stood for Christ. "Ohhhh," they murmured in unison.

The sixth graders proudly wore their new Chi-Rho necklaces the next morning as we ate breakfast and had our closing worship. The ritual was small and simple, but hopefully, meaningful for them. It is my hope that they understood that the church recognizes their growth and maturity, and is ready to walk with them into the next stage of their spiritual development.

1 comment:

Adam Gonnerman said...

Sounds really good. Sometimes churches don't take very seriously the physical and spiritual growth of their youth. Too bad about the rattlesnakes, though. Just like a serpent to try to interfere with God's work....