We are right in the midst of summer, and thankfully it is much different from the one we experienced last year. The old positive associations that so many have with the season are back. If you’re a kid, it means that school is out…and, unfortunately, by now it feels like it’s almost time to go back. If you’re an adult, maybe it means a road trip somewhere exciting—just off the top of my head, I know some of you have gone to California, Colorado, and to the Frio River in recent weeks. Or maybe it means taking in an Astros game at Minute Maid Park. Or cooking burgers in the backyard and sitting around with friends and family on a lazy, sunny afternoon, assuming that it ever actually stops raining around here again.
It also means that it’s time for Vacation Bible School: we are just over a week away from its start on July 19. We are really excited about its return, since we weren’t able to put it on last year. But we are going to do things a little bit differently this year.
For one thing, it will take place at night. Services will start at 6 pm with everyone meeting in the auditorium, and will conclude at 8 pm in the same place. For another, that means that we are going to have a class for adults, too. VBS is not just for the young children this year; it is for all ages.
Our theme is “Marooned: Steady Faith in Shifting Sands.” The underlying idea is that the life of faith is challenging. Even great men and women of God experienced obstacles in trying to do God’s will; we should not expect that we will somehow be immune to struggles on our own journey. But their examples recorded for us in Scripture can instruct, inspire, and empower us to face our own stumbling blocks and overcome them.
We will look at Elijah, the great prophet of God who had a showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. He demonstrated tremendous courage and won a great public victory on behalf of the Lord. But in the immediate aftermath of that triumph, the Queen of Israel, Jezebel, threatened to kill him. Elijah became so discouraged that he went out into the wilderness alone and wished for his death. He reminds us that people of faith are still subject to low points—even depression—in their walk.
We will look at Josiah, who became King of Judah as a boy of only 8 years old. In contrast to his father, he tried to live a life pleasing to God. That led him to pursue a widespread religious reform, destroying idols, executing pagan priests, and stamping out false worship. But his efforts faced a further challenge when the long neglected book of the Law was found while cleaning out the Temple. Would he conform himself to God’s will?
We will look at Jonah, a story we all know from our own childhood days. Jonah was called as a prophet not to God’s people, but to their enemies in Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Jonah ran from his responsibility; when he finally relented, he was upset at the success of his preaching. His life forces us to grapple with whether our priorities match those of God.
Finally, we will look at Thomas—“Doubting Thomas” as we probably know him. Thomas famously was skeptical when the other apostles told him that Jesus was raised from the dead; he demanded to be able to see and touch for himself. We can sympathize with his struggle. But when convicted of the truth, he made perhaps the strongest statement of faith in the gospel accounts.
All of these lessons will be profitable and practical, instilling significant principles in young and old alike. And, while that’s most important, on top of that, there will be fun: crafts, singing and, of course, snacks! And perhaps a few others surprises, too.
So consider this a call for action. What do we need you to do? First of all, be here! As we have said, this is for all ages, so if you are reading this, there is no reason you should miss out. That also means that you should try to bring others along. We have yard signs available in the foyer; if you have not already gotten one (or more), grab it after services and put it up. Share it on Facebook. Invite your friends and neighbors. If you know of children who might want to come but the parents are unable to attend, let us know—Robert Ward will be driving the bus to pick them up if there is enough interest. And if you want to help, we could certainly use you in some capacity. This is our “Service Sunday,” and this evening it is going to be all about preparing for VBS, so we will put you to work there then. If you want to know how to get more involved, see either Abbey Perkins or Lauren Tristan, and they will be happy to have you as a volunteer.
This is just one more sign that we are getting back to normal around here. But as we have said before, if the “new normal” is going to be better than ever, it will take all of us. Help us make this year’s VBS a success!