by Dale Reeves
Sitting in my office this past Monday while the first day of MAD Camp was going on in our building, I overheard a classroom leader say, “We will stop here and won’t continue down the hall until everyone is quiet!” I think it was one of our teen volunteer leaders who said that. He spoke with authority. I chuckled to myself and thought, “Good luck with that. Wonder how long that will last!”
If you haven’t noticed, it is simply in the nature of children to be loud. They are loud at home, at school, in public libraries, doctors’ offices, in church, in cars and airplanes, and anywhere else you can imagine. As babies arrive in the world, they begin crying, then cooing, then babbling, then eventually graduating to talking incessantly to whomever will listen. They make sounds while watching TV, playing with toys, mimicking the sounds of insects and animals they hear, whining, screaming with that shrill high-pitch tone I could never handle, and the best of all—the sounds of sheer joy and laughter. Have you ever heard two kids screaming at one another about nothing in particular at all, just trying to match each other’s tone?
Every now and then, parents are successful in getting their kids to use their “inside voices.” Other times, not so much. Our God created each child with his or her own unique little voice to make noise, and each one is a beautiful creation by our Father God, designed to develop their talents for God’s glory and others’ enjoyment. This year’s MAD Camp T-shirts say it like this: “I am God’s masterpiece.” The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Oh, the joyful noises that MAD (Music, Art, & Drama) Camp brings to our church building every summer! The sounds of first through sixth graders singing praises to God, learning how to play the drums, learning to praise God by dancing, learning to play ukulele, and run production in our auditorium! And the shouts and screams and laughter in the gym and in the hallways. The constant drumming in the playground that sits beneath my office window. Smile. Our CCKids director, and Head Honcho of MAD Camp, Heather Medlar, describes some of the other classes that are options for kids to choose from this week: “The Firecrackers performance jump rope team are leading jump rope classes, kids are learning to do stage makeup, doing readers’ theatre, learning about video cameras and lighting, doing origami, Lego art, participating in games and trivia, making bears for our church’s Bear Ministry that will go to area hospital patients, and all kinds of crafts and art projects. This year we have about 275 campers from grades one through six, and over 100 volunteers make it all happen.”
This week I interviewed a few of our volunteers about why they have given every morning this week to MAD Camp, in addition to the prep time each had to put in. Here are some of the responses I got. Senior adult Barb Poston is serving for her fifth or sixth year, and she shares why she does this: “It’s fun and Jesus loves children.”
Michelle Weiss is leading crafting for first and second graders, with Lauren Rea. Lauren will be a senior in high school, was a former camper, and has volunteered the past few years. She says, “I loved it when I came as a kid and I like giving back and helping others now.” Michelle is serving at MAD Camp this year for the first time. She comments, “My daughter is in camp this year and I like getting to know her friends and giving back to children. It’s fun to see how creative they are.”
Donna Henderson, recently retired, is volunteering for the first time this year. She says, “My grandkids are both here, one of them is volunteering and the other one is in the older kids’ class. I love seeing people coming and going in the volunteer hospitality room.” Her first-year helper, Vicki Goudzwaard, shares, “I like giving back to others too! Our job is to keep the leaders fed and energized.”
The Greatest in the Kingdom
At the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life on this earth, he entered into the temple. After healing the blind and the lame at the temple, the Bible tells us that the chief priests and teachers of the law saw these wonderful things Jesus had done, and they heard many “children shouting in the temple area, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’” The teachers of the law were indignant and asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” (Matthew 21:14-16, NIV).
The teachers of the law understood that the title “Son of David” was a reference to the long-awaited Messiah, so it angered them that the children were essentially calling him the Promised One sent from God. These critics wanted Jesus to stop the children from praising him in this way. The children were responding to how they had seen Jesus display his power and authority. Jesus would not correct them. Just the opposite, he responded to his critics, “From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise,” (Matthew 21:16, NIV), which was a reference from Psalm 8:2.
A mark of Jesus’ ministry was validating and affirming children as the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. Several times throughout his ministry, when adults were trying to shoo the children away from him, Jesus reacted in just the opposite way. He told his disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14, 15, NLT).
Another time Jesus affirmed their innocence and humility by saying, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me” (Matthew 18:3-5, NLT).
Do you hear the children? This past week at Christ’s Church, we’ve heard them loud and clear. Thank you, MAD campers!! You truly are God’s masterpiece. May the adults in your lives and in our church follow after your example in lifting up praises to our Lord and Savior Jesus!