Thursday, August 9, 2007

LBI Reflections

This week my family decided to take a semi-vacation down on Long Beach Island. By re-arranging my days off, adding one day (meaning I'll work extra next week), and leaving right after worship on Sunday we were able to spend half a week at a shore house a woman from our congregation rented (who has adopted our Kids, as well as us, into her extended family). It's was, OK. It was kinda hot and humid, and passing storms made the surf (which is always bad on LBI) pretty rough for the kids so they were on and off grumpy - and they didn't sleep well. On the other hand, we really like spending time with Peg (the nice lady who rented the house), her daughter and her husband (who are just a little older than Jen and I), and their grand-kids (whom we really appreciate). I've never really gotten to know Peg's Son-in-Law as he's only rarely at Church - but he's actually a witty guy who likes talking baseball (so we get along just fine). Jen and Peg's daughter talked a lot as well. She's someone that we both really appreciate, but we don't get to see her a lot because of her work schedule (she's a nurse, 'nuff said). So, internal to our family we dealt with the grumpys, but the time with our our adopted extended family was really rewarding (and that's not always true for family vacations).

One of the reasons that Peg rented the house this weekend was because of a beach program that runs this week called "CSSM." That is, "Children's Sun and Surf Mission." This is basically a free "on the beach" VBS that runs for two weeks every summer. Peg's kids all did it growing up, and now she's excited to get to take her grand-kids to it as well. It's run by a group of enthusiastic College Students, who apparently come back summer after summer, and is organized by the daughter and son-in-law of the program's founder. All-in-all, CSSM is "OK." It's pretty much a typical Evangelical kid's program. It's not shallow, it's also not deep, and it's makes a fair amount of assumptions about the type of language kids are going to understand (a healthy, but not toxic, smattering of "Christian-ese"). I don't think I'd present things the same way, but then again I haven't been running a kids program on the beach for two generations with volunteers who come back year after year after year either, so what do I know?

My kids have been hit or miss in embracing CSSM. My daughter will participate up to a point (especially in the morning, when it's hot and she just wants to go swimming). My Son, on the other hand, has no time at all for CSSM. He sat for the first morning session, but then lasted only about half the time in the evening session before he broke down in tears because he was wondering where we all were (about 20 feet away). The second day, he just didn't want to go at all. As (a)CSSM is free, and (b) we were on vacation - we didn't push my son to participate. He probably would have had a good time had we pushed the issue, but it didn't really seem to be worth the fight. The second evening we went for a walk down to the bay and just had some time to ourselves, and that was nice.

One thing I didn't like about the CSSM presentation was their version of Jonah. It was a clever presentation (complete with beat-poetry), but the committed the error that I can't stand when it comes to Jonah - they changed the reason Jonah didn't got to Ninevah. Look, I don't know why Christians (particularly Evangelicals) fail to notice that the reason that Jonah didn't want to go to Ninevah is actually given in the book (look at Jonah 4:2). Jonah wasn't scared to go to Ninevah (as was presented at CSSM), he was hoping that his avoidance of Ninevah would mean that God would nuke the dang city. Fact is, he hated the city, and he hated the people - and he didn't want them to get an opportunity to repent. Why Evangelicals change this point, I have no idea - particularly when it works perfectly into a presentation of the Gospel message: "God is not like Jonah, he wants you to have an opportunity to be forgiven so much that he sent his only Son that you would have eternal life." See how that works?

Anyway, aside from my problem with the Jonah presentation CSSM was OK, our kids had a bit of fun, and we made some friendships better. Not a bad way to spend half a week.

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