I hesitate to come right out and say that Jesus was a zombie but it certainly gets one's attention, doesn't it? Hey, come, lighten up a bit. He came back from the dead, for goodness' sakes. (Cool pun, too. Where else could I use that one?)
I spent the weekend with the middle school kids at Youth Quake and the theology was dead on (opps, another one) if a bit unusual. You do what you can to explain things to kids in a way they understand. And I'll bet they never forget the zombie part. I know I always learn something at youth events.
I learned that I may be getting too old for this stuff. While my mind and spirit are younger than ever and genuinely love physical activity, my body is aging. I learned that it was probably a really stupid move to play Giants, Wizards and Elves.
This game is a variation of Paper, Scissors, Rock and it's played in an open field. Two sides line up against each other. Each team consults with themselves and decides which one they will be. There is a specific sign to show who you are. At the appointed time the groups show their sign (arms held high if you're a giant, fingers at their ears if an elf and I forget the wizard sign) Giants beat Wizards, Elves beat Giants and Wizards beat Elves) When the signs are revealed the victorious team runs to tag the losers and take them back to their side to join their team. There is a lot of wild running involved.
Two plays into the game, I looked up to see a sea of children coming at us. I turned to run but was knocked down, run over and trampled for a while. I lived to tell and finally found my glasses and they were still in one piece so it wasn't all bad. Apparently, I don't run as fast as I once did.
I had a quick flashback to a rule I established for myself about ten years ago: Never play Red Rover against high school fullbacks. Now I have another game and another age group to add to the list. I may be a slow learner but eventually I catch on.
Like all the other youth retreats, Youth Quake has some serious bible study mixed in with all the games and crafts. The lesson this time was Jesus returning from the dead to visit with his disciples. We referred to our time as a Zombie Jamboree more than once. We even did the energizer by that name. I took a video of the energizer but you couldn't hear the music.
We were one of the first events held in the new conference center. As exciting it was to get twice as much space I think we lost a lot of the acoustics in the deal. But the extra room sure made it more fun to run around in. I've done a lot of energizers in a variety of places and it was nice to be able to move around with abandon in the way energizers were designed. Here's a video to show you.
I always learn some serious theology when I'm able to think like a child. Jesus was serious about peace. In the story we studied from John 20 Jesus told his friends no fewer than three times that He was bringing them peace. But He never went into specifics and it's left it up to us to decide what peace is. But here's the definition of peace I learned last weekend: It's more important to love each other than it is to agree with each other. Try that one on for size.
Well, I have plenty of people I disagree with, mostly on political grounds and plenty of them right here in my church. However I can love the people in my church family easily. I've known some of them over 30 years. We've taught each others' children. I've spent time with them in hospital waiting rooms. We've sat next to each other at funerals and weddings. Our country seems more at odds with each other than usual lately and sometimes I wonder if it would help to take the entire country and set them next to each other during the silent confession of sin and let them stay that way for a while.
But I learned some other theology this weekend, from the most unlikely of places.
One of the churches brought with them a few challenging boys. Beaven shared a cabin with their church and can testify he didn't get a wink of sleep Friday night because they were so hyperactive, loud and disruptive. And I'm not talking about the run of the mill ADHD boys. These were foster children who the state of Texas had removed from their biological parents' custody and given over to the family who brought them to our retreat. Nobody knew anything for sure except they clearly had other issues going on besides a touch of ADHD. The little guy in my group had a speech impediment and (someone said) also brain damage. We found another kid hiding under a blanket. Still another kept trying to lay in the leader's lap. These boys were clearly not ordinary. However, they all had one thing in common-- each of them was more loving than any child I've ever worked with. And one of them was in my small group.
Our group accepted him for himself and tried to accommodate him. Sometimes he joined in the conversation and sometimes he was in his own little world. He spent the better part of our last group meeting taking his pockets apart. He had started the weekend with cargo pockets and loops on his pants but had been methodically dismantling them during small group time.
During our last meeting I was telling about an experience I had at one of the beaches in Guatemala. I was going on and on trying to describe what a beautiful creation God gave us and how we have changed it. Monte Rico is one of the last undeveloped shorelines in the world. This means there are no oil derricks off shore, no cruise ships or drilling rigs anchored in the waters. It has one of the last remaining undeveloped pieces of water in the world, where the water and shore are left just the way God made them. My young friend looked up from the string he was pulling from his pants hem and illuminated us: "That means it was Holy Water."
I hope I never get too old to hang with the youth.