A Reflection From 6th Grade Camp

Hello SVC Community,

I hope you all had a great week! It’s been a great week on campus. There is so much going on. Spring sports are off and running. The 8th graders are gearing up for DC in a couple of weeks. The spring fundraiser is right around the corner. Plus…it’s 75 degrees outside. I am not missing Seattle at all!

Today, I wanted to let you in on a story from 6th grade camp. First of all, I have to give a shout-out to Mrs. Waggoner, Miss McCoy, Mr. Rodriguez, and Mr. Davis for all their work to make the camp happen. The kids had an awesome time and most of that is due to the hard work of our teachers!

Of course, camp was fun. Camp is always fun. You are away from home with your friends and your teachers. You get to do really cool things that you would never do anywhere else. But, to me, the coolest part of the week was not the team-building activities or the games or the high ropes course. (By the way, that Centurion climb is no joke. The wind was blowing about 20 miles an hour and kids were jumping off a platform toward a 100 foot high trapeze with complete confidence in their belayer. It was an impressive example of trust and teamwork.) The best thing that happened during camp was intentional discipleship.

Over the course of the week, the 6th graders were divided into small groups led by five of our high school students and one of our alumni. (On a side note, this is one of the coolest things about a PK-12 school. I remember my 6th grade camp counselor. He played on the high school tennis team and was the ASB President. I wanted to be him when I grew up!) That’s what I saw at camp. The leaders formed deep and meaningful relationships with the kids in their groups. They were mentors. They were heroes.

Ironically (or maybe intentionally), one of the passages discussed in small group time came from Luke 18. This is so applicable on so many levels that I had to share it with you. Check it out!

LUKE 18:15-17

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Ok, in order to really understand what is going on here, we have to know a little bit about social stigmas and customs in the first century. Jewish culture was family oriented. Children were valued as an inheritance from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). So, it is not surprising that parents would bring their children to Jesus and seek the blessing of a rabbi. However, Roman culture was very different. It was a patriarchal society in which an almost militant relationship between father and son was the norm. The practice of infanticide was common, specifically with baby girls who could not carry on the family line. Men, especially men of authority, were elevated. Dignity was the result of one’s status and one’s position. And, because the Romans were the occupying power and, thus, quite formative in the cultural customs of the day, Roman values started to leak into the Jewish mindset. The best example is the Pharisees. They had obviously begun to adopt a stance that was more Roman than Jewish. In Luke 11:43, Jesus mentions that the Pharisees sought the places of honor in the synagogue and the respectful greetings in the marketplace. They liked the elevation afforded to men of power and status in the Roman world.

So, when the disciples rebuke the parents for bringing their babies to Jesus, they are rejecting the Godordained values of family and are reinforcing a Roman worldview of power and authority…not to mention the fact that an entourage is always concerned about the dignity of the leader as it elevates its own status.

But Jesus calls them out on this and offers an alternative. Ok, stay with me here, because this is so brilliant. When we read this story, we often make it about the children. That is the most apparent lesson. Have faith like a child. Be dependent. Have complete trust. That is certainly an important message, but it is not the whole story. The story is that Jesus Himself is rejecting the underlying values of Roman culture. He doesn’t want dignity. He doesn’t want power. He doesn’t want authority. This is why I love to read the teachings of Jesus. In one short sentence, he tells us to be humble and demonstrates humility…brilliant!

I cannot help but draw a comparison between Roman culture and our society. We value position. We value status. We value wealth and influence. We value respect. We glorify our own achievements. But, at camp this week, I saw a different example. I saw high school kids – leaders on our campus who could have spent the week focused on their own agendas – pouring into the next generation. That’s a picture of Christ. That’s an example from which we can all learn. That’s a model of service and humility, and I am challenged and convicted regarding how much of my time I spend on myself, my own goals, and my own agenda. Certainly, if we learn anything from Jesus, it is that we find God in service to and relationship with others. I saw a lot of childlike faith this week. But I also saw a lot of Jesus!

Blessings,

Erick Streelman
Head of School

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