a reflection by parishioner Paige Russell
Vacation Bible Camp 2018 is Monday, June 25th through Friday, June 29th, from 1pm to 3:30pm.
Sign up here: https://stpaulspgh.breezechms.com/form/e824cb
Growing up in the Episcopal church, there were certain rites of passage that you could always count on – Baptism, Confirmation, EYC, becoming an acolyte and Vacation Bible School. When the Sunday announcements started including the information about registration, theme, and dates, as a child, I knew summer was on the way! And whether I was a “little kid” attending VBS or a “big kid” volunteer with responsibilities, I was always ready to be a part of VBS. Vacation Bible School – that magical week where the Parish Hall, Sunday School rooms and Nave were transformed into a location from the Bible. That magical week where we sang and danced, where we created art to clutter the refrigerator, and where we saw God.
Now, as an adult, one passage resonates with me – “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” 2 Timothy3:14 When I am part of VBS, I see this unwavering faith through the eyes of children…I see God. I see Him at two separate churches, through two separate Children’s Ministries, in two separate parts of the country. For two amazing weeks, I am a child again and my faith moves mountains. My mountains are those we, as adults, face on a daily basis – bills, work, money, the health and happiness of our families. Mountains that we can sometimes allow to landslide into our faith and block the way to God. But surrounded by children and their unwavering faith that God is – just simply is – I feel my faith growing…And I see God.
It’s hard to be a child in today’s world. Much harder, in my opinion, than when many of us were children. There is so much MORE out in the world for them, in part, by the introduction of social media, ginormous leaps in technology and the Internet. Whether it is in fact true or not, my children are so much smarter than I was at their age…and yet, their faith and unwavering belief that God is continues to amaze me. I was raised on the old wives tales that children see fairies, ghosts and angels because their hearts are pure, uncorrupted by the world around them. Now, as a mother, a VBS leader, and a Sunday School teacher I believe that old tale more than ever. I get a dose of that purity of heart in Sunday School and Children’s Chapel each week. Then I am lucky enough to get a double dose each summer as Vacation Bible School takes over the church for a week.
As this is being shared with all of you, I am hip deep in children. I am in my “adopted” church home, Dunwoody Baptist Church. I am hoarse from singing and shouting to keep up with your group. I have taken hundreds of pictures. I am sore from dancing and teaching dances. I am exhausted. But I am being restored, I am seeing God and I am a Child again. As this is being shared with you, I am making multiple phone calls home to make sure I am ready to do this again, here, at St. Paul’s. I am practicing our song for the week – words and dance moves – I am reassuring our VBS team “We got this” and I am excited! I am excited because I get to continue my Child-like journey back into my faith, to know again that God IS.
When I was asked to talk about VBS, I had no idea what I was going to say, if I could even put into words what VBS means to me. And so, I put on my VBS music and just started typing…I thought, let me share about how important children are to the continuation of churches, nope, we know this. We have seen the increase in Sunday School rosters and attendance. I thought, let me share about how, we as adults have so much to give to our children. Wrong, boy was I wrong, because that’s when the verse from 2 Timothy stared echoing in my mind. It’s because our children already know who God is, what God is and why God is. I await the craziness of VBS all year long because I know I am going to be a Child again – a Child of God – and that my faith will be awesome, that my soul will be restored and that I will see God. I will see God in the faces of the children ministering to me.
Won’t you come see God with me?