Another great week of Vacation Bible School has come to an end. Every year I think back to my own days of Vacation Bible School, Youth Choir Tours, Congregation wide Musicals and the awesome worship services offered especially around Easter and Christmas with orchestra, soloists and special music. It takes lots of dedicated people and literally years of preparation and budgeting. Every year people volunteer and bring their resources and past experiences to teach and lead others. As soon as one event is concluded, people gather to talk about the next VBS, trip or music event.
When a church faithfully prepares for these events through budgeting and recruitment and the faithful community gathers remembering that all they offer is to glorify God, they make disciples for Jesus Christ. A new community is formed and new people find an entry point into an existing fellowship. People learn about each other and discover some of the gifts and graces their new friends have that may not have been obvious in day to day life. People often find they too may have skills they were unaware of or develop an interest in some new gift they discovered.
As an adult I am aware how many people who do not have a regular church home volunteer for these types of ministries. Every year there are one or two who find the church community warm and inviting and the program challenging and relevant who may not have had any other experience with a church or faith fellowship. Some may go on to find other ministries to be a part of right away while some may invest several years into supporting that one ministry before taking the next step. So many times we think these ministries are only about the children, concert goers or audiences who receive the fruits of our labors. Hopefully the content of the event is always grounded in the Gospel message but so often it is those side conversations and casual questions that make the deepest impact.
This year’s Vacation Bible School was called “Surf Shack”. I didn’t learn a lot about surfing but I did see over 300 children and adults learning about God. I saw adults I didn’t know working side by side and building bonds with long-time members of the church. I saw tired and wearied people being supported and encouraged by people who were no longer strangers. I saw children of all different sizes and shapes playing together and building long lasting bridges. I witnessed young people from a variety of ethnic traditions and philosophical backgrounds learning a common language of love and friendship.
Not every congregation can host vacation Bible school, produce a musical or send their youth choir on tour in the way that Laurel Heights has, but every congregation can be involved in their community and welcome new people. We can all work together to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and love one another. The planning and preparation can be as important as the production itself and if it is done with as much love and care as Laurel Heights put into this year’s vacation Bible school, disciples of Jesus Christ will be made and the transformation of the world will continue and maybe, just maybe there will be a time of peace on earth and good will towards all of God’s creation in our lifetime. It’s possible, but we need to start planning now for our 2017 ministries and listening to what God has in store for us.
See you Sunday,