Tag Archives: Vacation Bible School

Praise and The PIT

PRAISE is the theme of our Vacation Bible Adventure at Resurrection. We are using curriculum developed by the Go Fish Guys, a contemporary Christian band that creates children’s music. The curriculum has great videos that energize the children to dance and sing as they praise God.

As a pastor, I enjoy watching the children and youth/adult leaders jump and clap, move and groove to the strong beat of praise. On occasion I have joined them in the dance, but I try to save my energy for later in the morning.

After the large group opening praise session, the children scatter in small groups to four different stations: games, crafts, snacks and Bible story. I have the joy of leading the Bible stories. Just as Go Fish are strongest when singing and praising God, my strength centers in finding creative ways to tell the Bible stories.

The PITAll the stories this year revolve around praising God in difficult times. A central motif in each story is The PIT. Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego faced The PIT of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3. Daniel has to enter The PIT of the lions’ den in Daniel 6. Paul and Silas praise God while be in The PIT of the Philippian jail in Acts 16. And Jesus give us reason to praise when he entered The PIT of death and rose again to give us life. The PIT cannot keep us from praising God.

Each of us enter The PIT at times. It may be a bad choice we have made or it may circumstances beyond our control. The PIT can be a broken relationship, a chronic illness, unemployment or despair. When we enter The PIT we may call out for God to rescue us. We may lament and call out like the psalmist, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22) The PIT can be very real and very dark.

PraiseHowever The PIT is only for a season. The practice of praise can give us strength to face The PIT while trusting God. At some point God releases us from our despair. The relationship is mended, the sickness healed, the job found. Jesus’ resurrection promises that even The PIT of death will be overcome. At that point do we remember to praise God? Do we remember to dance and sing with others in worship of the one who rescues us?

Thanks, Jesus, for teaching me to dance and sing with your children.

Soaring On Eagle’s Wings

This morning was our final day of Vacation Bible Adventure at Resurrection Lutheran Church. The Bible story was Jesus’ death and resurrection. The children carried the cross through the worship area to our story room so as to remember how Jesus carried the cross out to Golgotha. We heard again how he was nailed to the cross and died for our sins.

But God proved his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Roman 5:8).

To help dramatize this concept each child placed a black strip of plastic on the cross, a symbol of our sin and brokenness.  Then we prayed our confession of sin and heard again the promise of our forgiveness.  Jesus’ death cleanses us from sin.

We then went outside to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. We remembered that our church is called Resurrection and every Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ rising from the dead.  We are resurrection people and we demonstrate that Jesus’ lives by our lives of love and service.

The culmination of our celebration was the launching of model rockets, remembering one of our Biblical promise from the week, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall soar with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). What a joy to share this week with the children, youth and adult volunteers.

Lord Jesus, You are the resurrection and the life.  Launch me into your resurrected life, that I soar on wings like eagles.

Elijah and the Fireman

The joy and excitement of last week’s Vacation Bible Adventure still resonates in my soul.  It was a great week of singing songs, making crafts, playing games and telling Bible stories.  The coordinators, Laura Holtmeier and Tonya Bushard, asked me to be the storyteller and I was able to tap some of my passion for the dramatic.  With the help of Adam Behnken,  we relived stories from the Old and New Testament.  The children were called to imagine God’s great acts of power and compassion.

One day we retold the story of Elijah confronting the 450 prophets of Baal from I Kings 18.  We had the children build an altar in a plastic tub with stone and wood. They prepared a sacrifice of chocolate as we reimaged the story.  We even had the children drench the “altar” with pitchers of water, like Elijah.  Then, prior to calling for the LORD God to send down fire, I had to intervene as a fireman.  I warned them because when Elijah called down the fire, it consumed not just the sacrifice, but the wood, stones and water.  I had to prevent the children “from burning down the church.”  Unfortunately, the chocolate was still lost due to the pitchers of water.

Our story telling may not be “historically accurate,” but it does place us in the story, participants in God’s great story.  One of my criticisms of modern Biblical studies is that we can get so bogged down in the historical analysis that we forget the story is meant to engage us as readers.  Scholarship can sometimes place us “over” the text, as a kind of superior critic, when actually God wants to place us “under” the text or “within” the story, so that our hearts, minds, imaginations can be reshaped in God’s image.

As I read the story of Elijah, and visualize the people watching this confrontation, I wonder which side I would be rooting for.  After all, Baal is the ancient version of our own idols and false gods that we give allegiance to: popularity, success, wealth and status.  Baal was the popular god of Israel at the time, that is why 450 prophets stood against Elijah.  As I enter the story, sometimes I am Elijah, but often I am one of bystanders or a prophet of Baal. Through the story, I encounter the call of God to be faithful in my time and place.

How has a Biblical story confronted you and your life?

Lord Jesus, help me to read your Word so that your Word enters into my life.

Male Factor in Faithbuilding

We just completed a great week of Vacation Bible Adventure, my first at Resurrection.  I continue to be impressed with the creative energy, commitment and passion of our volunteers.  Tonya Roberts and Laura Holtmeier provided masterful coordination by recruiting, training and leading the teams as we discovered God’s tremendous promises in Psalm 139.  Over a hundred children were touch by the contagious joy of God’s people.

Men of VBA

Among the many impressive volunteers was a strong male contingent.  Don’t get me wrong.  There were many impressive female crew guides, station leaders and organizers.  All played a part.  But in our suburban setting it would be easy for females to overwhelm this nurturing role for children.  So I was doubly pleased to see many of our young men participating in VBA.  They demonstrated that Christian education is not just a female role.  Our young guides provide role models for the younger boys to see how they can live out their faith in Jesus. I was delighted to serve among these talented, spirit-filled male leaders   

The Bible story for the last day was Peter’s denial of Jesus during the passion (Mark 14).  Whenever I tell that story, I remember my theology professor, Gerhard Forde, and his remark to those who claim to be self-confident in their faith in Jesus. Forde would respond, “cock-a-doodle-doo!” Forde saw Peter’s promise that he would remain steadfast as a reflection of the sinner’s trust in one-self.  He would caution us to never look at our faith as something we possess but to always look to Jesus as the one who rescues us.  Any promise I make to God is the faintest echo of God’s promise to us in Jesus Christ. 

As I reflect on this week of VBA, I continue to rejoice in God’s faithful promise to work through his people, male and female, young and old, sinners and saints.  As we sang all week, “God is wild about you.”

Do you have any special memories of Vacation Bible School from your childhood?

Lord Jesus, continue to raise up leaders for your church so that your good news can be heard.