A few people who know me may also know that I struggled with a call to ministry for a good SEVEN years before I actually took the first step towards answering that call. In my mind I kept asking God, "God, are you sure its me you meant?" I felt like Moses, "but, you know, I can't really talk good." Or my personal favorite, "Ok God, but not now." Moses was not the only reluctant prophet. Take Jonah, for instance. Not only was he reluctant, but his reasoning for not answering God's call was unbelievable–He didn't LIKE the Ninevites. They weren't HIS people, they were foreigners. They were "the other." But, God in God's infinite wisdom teaches Jonah and us an important lesson with this story. In this text, God reveals a love for ALL people, not just the chosen ones. You see, there suddenly is no "other" people, for we all belong to God, who loves us equally.
There are many opportunities in our lives when we encounter "the other" and are called to treat them as "us." In my opinion, church is the absolute BEST place for this to happen. Vacation Bible School is one such opportunity. Within the span of 5 days we open our doors and our hearts and let "the other" in and share the good news of Jesus Christ's saving grace to children who often come to us from fractured homes and fragmented lives. Sometimes they come to us from homes and church families much like our own, but more often than not, they enter into our hospitality with a tremendous need for love and grace in their lives.
Last year, after our Big Jungle Adventure, we evaluated the work we did to bring about that particular VBS. Everyone felt that it was a great success and the beginning of a new era of ministering to our children and children from the community–something this church has always been known for and proud of, but had to be set aside for the renovation project. In this evaluation process we also felt that we can build upon what we started and make it even better in 2012.
Christian Education Team has been working on the 2012 program for months now. This year we are writing our own curriculum, feeding our guests a meal each day, revisiting old favorite VBS songs from long ago, creating our own crafts and games and offering bus service for those who pre-register and request transportation (because of liability issues we cannot transport children without parental consent). Our theme this year is "I Rocked the Boat at VBS!" The stories of Gods love and acts of saving grace throughout the Bible will come alive through characters who stood up against the cultural norms and shook things up to reveal God to people living on the margins of society, "the others" of their time. Our society has these same "others" who live among us today.
Vacation Bible School creates for us opportunities to open our hearts and our doors to "the others" who live near us, but whom we seldom encounter. When we open ourselves and let someone new into our lives, we are as blessed (or more so) than those we bless. To accomplish these goals, to bring to our community the kind of VBS experience we envision, we require much from you. Dare I say, God is calling us into action? I do not presume that I know the mind of God, nor do I dare say that I speak for God. But, I do know that my calling is one of service to share the news of God's son, Jesus Christ, to this broken and hurting world in which I live. And, furthermore, I know that I am not alone in this call–this is a call for all Christians.
If we are to share the gospel news to the children of our community, not just our own little ones, then this is a call to our entire church, not just the Christian Education Team, not just our young people because they have all the energy, not just our retired folks because they have more time, not just our parents because it is their kids whom we serve, not just our paid staff because that's what they are paid for, not just those who are trained in special areas because that is what they are good at, not just, not just, not just…This list could go on forever.
This is a call for EVERY individual to step out in faith and consider the possibility that God can use each of us in new and exciting ways to make this project happen. This is a call for EVERY member, friend and guest to take part in something bigger than ourselves to bring about a sharing of love and faith to ALL of God's people. This is a call for EVERY one of us to submit to the possibility that God can use us in spite of our busyness, in spite of where our comfort zones lie, in spite of our differences, in spite of our shortcomings, in spite of our fears, in spite of our unwillingness, in spite of our(fill-in-the-blank). This is a call for all God's reluctant prophets to get back on that boat and head to Nineveh and do what we are called to God–Proclaim the Good News that GOD is in THIS PLACE!