I wanted to share with you the educational theme for Episcopal Summer Mega Camp this year. We will have age-appropriate programs for our Elementary, Junior High, and Senior High students, but each group will use the same scripture as the basis for program each day.
Branching Out: Connecting through Christ
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
This year’s theme is “Branching Out: Connecting through Christ.” Camp is a good time to branch out in our lives—to stay overnight in a cabin or tent; to make new friends; to learn more about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and about God’s people; to try new activities such as swimming, canoeing, and horseback riding; and to discover new things about ourselves. Constancy in relationships, safety, and basic activities give us roots; change gives us branches and adventure—to try new things, discover things about ourselves, and stretch us to grow.
The second part of our theme is we are “Connecting through Christ.” Jesus gave us seven “I am” statements about himself in the gospel of John. In chapter 15 Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches. We have two jobs as branches: to stay connected to the vine and to bear fruit. Jesus’ life will flow through us if we remain in him.
This week we will experience ways to deepen our connection with Christ using these scriptures:
Joshua 4:1–9 – We hear about the Israelites crossing the Jordan River into the promised land, led by their new leader Joshua. We will explore how connecting with sacred places strengthens our connections with God’s promises and God’s people.
1 Kings 19:8–16 – The prophet Elijah is on the run after a powerful contest with prophets of other gods. In the wilderness he is sustained by God’s providential care. Elijah experiences storms—wind, earthquake, fire—but he hears God’s voice most powerfully in a quiet whisper. We explore how we might listen for God’s voice speaking to us.
1 Corinthians 11:23–26 – Paul gives us the words of Jesus as the basis for our celebration of holy communion. Even though our different traditions might have different ways of observing this sacrament, we learn how God’s intention is for all people to have a place in the community of faith.
Luke 24:13–35 – The afternoon of the day in which Jesus was raised from the dead, two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem, sad and dejected. A stranger joined them on the road; he explained scriptures to them as they walked, and when they arrived at their home and started to eat, it was then they realized that Jesus was the one who was with them. Like the disciples, we have tools for reconnecting with God, and we find them as we walk the road with Jesus.
John 8:2–11 – Some of the religious leaders were more interested in testing Jesus than in listening to what he had to say, but Jesus had an unnerving way of getting them to listen—to listen to their own hearts and to discover their connections to one another. We are invited to see with the eyes of our hearts and discover ways to build bridges with one another.
Luke 15:11–32 – Jesus used parables—stories that were often memorable with a surprise ending—to teach important truths. Today we have a familiar story of two brothers who must each explore their world and choose their connections. We have a loving father who gives each son permission to define himself on his own terms, yet his love for each of them is evident in the ways he reaches out and invites them in. God grants us freedom to explore who we are and to define our lives, all the while standing ready to embrace and welcome us.
Romans 8:35, 37–39 – Paul’s powerful and affirming words about how nothing can separate us from the love of Christ were learned from going through hardship and discovering that he was still connected to the vine that is Christ. As we wrap up our week at camp, it is so amazing to learn that indeed nothing can separate us from God’s love for us shown in Jesus Christ!
This week we want to experience growth as young disciples of Jesus Christ, branching out to try new things, including experiencing the joy of Christ’s life in us.
Copyright © 2016 by Chalice Press.