E-pistle July 16

High Seas Expedition: A long way from the beer hall. Or maybe not.
I can hardly wait for Monday morning. That’s when the latest edition of an LPC Vacation Bible School begins. This year’s theme is High Seas Expedition. The program begins at 9:30, but the first leaders will arrive much earlier and by 9:00 the church building will be full of activity as team leaders and teachers are putting last minute touches on lesson plans and activities.  And then there’s the sanctuary where all the kids gather daily for the opening and closing of VBS and where each class grouping comes for song and skit at some point during the morning. Thanks to the Cook family for once again transforming the chancel, this year into a high seas expedition. I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen to the room after worship on Sunday!
If you are able, and not one of the many who will be serving this year, think about dropping by the church, say at 9:30 or noon, to get a feel for all that’s happening.

There will be 100 or so kids involved in the 4 years old to fifth grade High Seas Expedition plus a great separate program for sixth-eighth grade youth. And many, if not most of the children will not be children of LPC families. Some will be friends of “our” kids and others, well, others will be there because it’s a week of cheap daycare.
So why VBS year after year? Just because we always do? And why all that effort on kids that aren’t our own?
A Christianity Today article a few years ago told the story of Vacation Bible School and its beginnings.

Vacation Bible school as we know it today got its start … on New York City's East Side. Mrs. Walker Aylette Hawes of the Epiphany Baptist Church noted a rapid increase in the number of immigrant children in the slums. In July 1898 she rented the only place available—a saloon—to run a Bible school for six weeks during the summer. Hawes structured her program around worship music, Bible stories and Scripture memorization, games, crafts, drawing, cooking, etc. The school caught on: Hawes was presiding over seven separate schools by the time she retired from her work in 1901. 

Some people today might categorize Mrs. Hawes' work in the beer hall as questionable. What a place to meet and, really, immigrant kids? Did they even speak English? Some might call it a social justice ministry and advise us to get away as fast as can.
At its best Vacation Bible School has always been one of the church’s most significant mission and ministry projects.  Mission always means leaving home and going wherever Christ is sending us to do the things Christ needs to be done. In this case mission is only as far as our neighbor kids. We’ll fill every room in our building, games in the grove and who knows what else. We could do it in beer hall, but 125 East Gillam Avenue works better.
Our High Seas Expedition curriculum is pretty slick. But take away the slick and you discover that we’re pretty much following Mrs. Hawes’ formula – music, Bible stores, crafts, games, snacks. And our goal is pretty much the same as hers: to introduce children who otherwise might not have the opportunity to hear the story the Bible tells – it’s the old, old story of Jesus and his love. We just won’t be telling it in a beer hall.
By the way, I will be skipping out on the last two days of VBS – I have a plane to catch. Going to Brazil to help out with EBF, Escola Bíblica de Férias, VBS. More on that next week.

For a preview of Sunday's Sermon, please click here.