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"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope." (2 Thessalonians 2:16 NIV)
For several years in a row, our congregation has conducted a Vacation Bible School near the end of the summer period - usually right before school starts back up. We have been relying upon youth groups from a church in Gainesville, and from two different cities in Tennessee. This year, our own members decided to go it alone without the outside "pros." While we were in Russia and Ukraine recently, we knew that we had that joyful experience awaiting us when we got back to Cedar Key. Each year we are somewhat surprised at the jubilance of the children and their attitude of eagerness to learn something about God's plan for man. This year is no different as we are in the middle of another successful VBS.
Some children that we had invited to attend our classes had several questions about the VBS that indicated it would be a new experience. When I was arranging the time they would be picked up, one in a group of three girls said she didn't think she wanted to go. Perhaps it is the word school in VBS. She was hoping that summer would continue a little longer. Last night was the second night and on the way home with these girls, they were singing this year's theme song and had a couple of bags with some leftover snacks. They couldn't wait until the next night and talked about bringing a friend.
Some memories from childhood always remain in that highly useful place that stores the unforgettable. They give us a pleasant experience whenever we take the time to recall those happier days and dream of brighter days ahead. A Vacation Bible School is an opportunity to share the faith with children. One of my special memories from being a kid long ago is the old song "Booster, Booster be a Booster, don't be grouch like a rooster, boost our Vacation Bible School." It has lost its popularity, nevertheless the message is that everyone benefits when adults put forth some extra effort and discover hidden sparks of talent that they were hiding or saving. Their newly released energy becomes a positive influence to children longing to spend time with adults who love God and godliness.
My siblings and I were fortunate to receive early teaching from sister Kathleen Johnson. She and her husband Howard have both gone to their reward. They came to our North Carolina manufacturing town because of his new job as the General Manager of a national mattress factory. Sister Johnson was her name for us kids and our parents called her Kate. She and other very dedicated adults taught us to memorize the books of the Old Testament, New Testament, tribes of Israel, name of apostles and many valuable verses of scripture. Of course, this learning did not happen without our parents' involvement. Whenever someone asks me about my theological education, or lack thereof, I tell of my first and most important Bible lessons from people who cared enough about the minds of young people to study and prepare interesting lessons from God's word. Pass your faith along!
That is the primary purpose of a church going out of its way to bring in kids and do all kinds of extra-ordinary things to entertain them. Sunday school and Vacation Bible School offer churches a high-energy venue to teach the truth from the Bible that will form the foundation for a person of faith. This learned and practiced faith will stay with a person all their lives. Even when a man or woman rejects the faith of their fathers and decides to do it their way, those early lessons from the Bible will always be there as a moral and spiritual compass to guide them home through the tsunamis of life. When this happens, they need the prayers and encouraging words of the faithful. The last thing they need is our condemnation! They need our loving words of encouragement as God delivers them discipline from the word and experiences of this life. "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you.'" (Hebrews 12:5 NIV)
This year in our VBS, two of our men have stepped forward to provide dynamic examples of leadership to the kids who come each night. Chris and Ken have thrown away their inhibitions as they joke with one another in front of the kids and as they lead them in songs that declare the praises of God. Laura and Molly are engaging and dramatic in the way they teach stories from the Bible. Jay had some deeper questions for me from the Bible story about Moses and his sister Miriam. The lesson was about serving your family. Miriam was the example of a person who stepped forward to help her little brother Moses who was in danger of death by the Pharaoh of Egypt. Jay wanted to know if she was ever mentioned in the Bible again. I directed him to a couple of other interesting passages about Miriam and he said he wants to read it at home. Maybe we are getting through. The kids are assimilating these ideas and we hope and pray that it will transfer to some homes. Shirley, Ken, Chris and Patty are also extremely busy preparing and serving food for the children each day. George quietly takes care of the trash each day and Robert plans to have the snow cone machine again this year for the final night's activities on Thursday. Jessi is helping take care of little kids; Lindsay and Vanessa put on a great puppet show that has the kids wanting to see it two times each night. We also owe a debt of gratitude to many people in the community who encourage us in this endeavor to pass along our faith in Jesus Christ.
We have been doing some canvassing around to find kids that might be interested in participating in the VBS. This year we discovered the need to be bi-lingual in English and Spanish. We met a couple of nice young boys and their moms who are new to Cedar Key and discovered that one of the boys interprets a little for the other. So far, they have been a little shy about coming to VBS, but we hope our visits in their home will help us build a bridge of kindness and understanding so that they will have a positive and memorable experience in their new home. Be a Booster - encourage a kid to love God and love others.
You are invited to attend the services of the Church of Christ which meets at the corner of 3rd and E Streets. Please write to me with any questions or comments at P.O. Box 186, Cedar Key, FL 32625 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also request to receive the daily WORD OF THE DAY by e-mail. Check out our web site at www.cedarkeychurchofchrist.com.