From the Staff . . .

Our Passport Kids Camp theme this year was Upside Down. Our Parkway children expressed some frustration with this theme, especially when asked how they felt “upside down.” They didn’t know when their Bible Study leaders were asking for a literal answer or a faith answer. Judging from some of the video responses to the daily question, a lot of the campers were having the same problems with the theme. Our morning devotions, worship response time and even some of our free time were spent discussing what upside down thinking looks like in our daily Christian walk.

In the adult devotion time, some of us had to confront the uncomfortable truth that for us, upside down thinking is stepping out of our comfort zone. Seeing others as Jesus sees them is not easy when it is  people who may be difficult or different from us. We tend to spend our time around the people who are most like us and whose opinions mirror our own. If you have any doubts about this, look around the church any Sunday morning. You can almost take roll with a quick look because most people sit in the same place, around the same people every Sunday. A few get upset if anyone mentions the need to change things up and sit on the opposite side of the church! I have to confess, I get a little disoriented when I get up to do the announcements and someone is out of place!

It really hit me just how narrow our community is when the question of the day was, “If you could sit at the table and share a meal with anyone, who would it be?”  There were some really good answers from Jesus, to family, but not one single person answered that they would want to share a meal with the homeless, or a person from another culture, or a handicapped person. This was Passport Camp. If no one wanted to venture out of their comfort zone here, what hope is there for anyone else?

At the closing worship service, a film was shown of an event held every year in Tallahassee, Florida. It is called “The Longest Table” and it allows people to come together to break bread and have honest discussions about the community over dinner at one continuous table. As many as 1000 people have attended. I looked at David Dover after the film and we both had the same thought: “We could do that at Parkway.” Can you imagine a table stretching the entire length of the parking lot with people from not only our church and the new neighborhood, but people from the apartments across the streets, or another church from the community, or the homeless all sitting together just talking about life in our little corner of the world? In my dream of this event, people who are able would bring a dish to share, but those who can’t would still be welcome. 

Upside Down thinking can feel a little uncomfortable. We may have to change our view of people. We may have to change our view of what God has called us to do. But can we really risk staying in our comfort zones, ministering to only the people who “fit in” with us? If we choose to follow the safe road, what will we lose? I have a feeling we will lose a great deal. Jesus didn’t stay in his comfort zone and I don’t think that is what he intended for us.

What does Upside Down thinking mean to you? Ready to give it a try?

Jane Redman