All this week we’ve been enjoying our now annual Vacation Bible School, which invades the Bonner Building including classrooms, Asbury room, and adjacent outdoor play areas on the Labyrinth and Triangle Park. This is the fourth year that we’ve sponsored a robust week-long event for children, youth and adults in collaboration with Group Publishing’s excellent program curriculum. Oh, did I say adults? Well, yes, as a matter of fact I did. And that is precisely because adults are at least as edified, inspired, and challenged by the events of the week as are the children and youth.
You’ll recall that in the gospels, Jesus admonishes the disciples to “let the little children come unto me” as if channeling the spirit of Isaiah in prophesying that “a little child shall lead them.” When we earnest welcome the child in our midst and relinquish a modicum of control to the one who would lead us as adults, often the response is pure joy!
I remember my experience years ago working as a leader in a Vacation Bible School program at our Cupertino church when I was a student minister. Roger Weddell was our Christian Educator at the time and was leading the effort. By about midway through the week, I came to Roger’s office to submit a complaint about the way I was experiencing my duties. I was discovering that I didn’t have nearly enough time to teach the curriculum that came with that particular program for Vacation Bible School. After my whining, Roger looked at me and said quite directly, “I always want you to remember what I’m about to tell you. At this church, we teach children, not curriculum. The curriculum is the excuse for there to develop a grace-filled relationship between the teacher and the child. The child may not remember a lot about what you’ve taught. They’ll probably not soon forget the person that has taught them and the quality of time spent in Vacation Bible School.”
My eyes were opened. From that time forward, I stopped trying to control the endeavor of children’s Christian education and began to focus upon and love the child who God put in my midst. It was one of the most important lessons I would learn as a student minister. And, in a very real sense, that has been why, rather than dreading a week of “putting up” with the kids, I’ve looked forward to this week every year and wouldn’t miss it for anything. In fact, when I’ve been appointed to churches with no annual Vacation Bible School (such as Gilroy and, initially, Napa Methodist Church), I make it one of my first objectives to figure out how we can reestablish a beachhead of VBS for the children and youth–and, yes, for the adults!
The best news of all is that there are still two days left at VBS this week! If you want to experience the joy I’m talking about, just come on down tomorrow or Friday and watch. Better yet, engage in anyway you desire. There’s nothing better than enjoying how a little child can lead you!
– Pastor Lee