Of all the lessons I learned in seminary one of the most important wasn’t taught in the classroom. While working in a bookstore one day a famous and aged Baptist preacher came in. Eager to pick his brain a little I quickly struck up a conversation with him. As we were talking a young boy—he couldn’t have been more than three years old—came bounding in with his mother in tow. Even though I was slightly annoyed at the distraction this aged preacher got down on two knees and in a loving grandfather-like way opened his arms wide to the boy he didn’t know and said: “Have you got a hug for me today?” This simple act of love and delight has been indelibly pressed on my heart as a constant reminder that children aren’t an interruption, intrusion, or inconvenience. In that moment this old man was showing me the heart of Jesus. As welcomed as children were to our Savior’s arms, so they should be welcome to the church’s time, energy, resources, teaching, prayers, and love.
One of the ways our congregation does that is through our yearly Vacation Bible School which met from June 5th – June 9th. Our VBS program is a simultaneous effort focused on our own covenant children, but it is is also an outreach to the children of the community. Beginning in January a committee started organizing a schedule, curriculum, decorations, advertising, and the nearly thirty volunteers who lend a hand throughout the week. This year we were glad to welcome 56 children from our small community of 600 many of whom were not from our church.
Our theme was on the grace of God. We began each day as a large group watching an opening skit, singing our theme Psalm and other songs, and having a friendly competition to see which group could collect the most food items for our local pantry. From there we split into four age groups each of which visited five stations—Bible lesson, memorization, crafts, games, and snacks. The lessons were structured around the acronym “PROOF” and showed that God’s grace is planned, resurrecting, outrageous, overcoming, and forever. On Friday evening we had a closing program and invited parents to come and see what had been going on all week. Before serving refreshments we reserve a couple of minutes to share some helpful resources and invite all to worship with us.
While our time is filled with fun and laughter it is also a week that we approach with a heartfelt desire that the Lord would bless our work. The Psalms teach us to sing: “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (Psalm 34:12). It is fascinating that this mighty warrior king paused to instruct children. Not in the ways of battle, political policies, or how to strum a harp but in the worship and awe of God. It is a tragic reality that most children know more about mathematics than they do the formula of the gospel; that they know more about sport and movie celebrities than they do about the character of God; that they know their way around an iPhone more than the Bible; and that they know more of the pleasures of this world than the exceeding pleasure of God. If we are not intentional about instructing children in the way of God then the flesh, the world, and the devil will teach them the ways of sin. That is a tragedy in the making.
The time, energy, and volunteer support that goes into our VBS makes it one of the most important ancillary activities of our church every year. Please pray that the seeds scattered—however small they may have been—would fall on good soil that will yield a harvest of righteousness in the Spirit’s appointed time.
Rev Kyle Borg