I’ve been working in Vacation Bible School this week. It’s made for a pretty full week – volunteering all morning, showering at lunchtime and then working at my real job all afternoon into early evening. I did it because I think it’s important to invest in the lives of the next generation.
But before you start the paperwork for my nomination for sainthood, let me confess. I mostly did it because it’s fun. Part of the fun is getting to know people I wouldn’t know otherwise. I’ve only been in this church a year. While I know a great many adults, I knew almost none of the children. I’ve also gotten to know more of the adults this week as well. In fact, my co-leader turned out to be a neighbor of mine.
We had the fun area: the games. For all of the cloudy but not raining days we’ve had this week, we do heartily give thanks.
Any week with kids is filled with priceless moments. Here are some of my favorites.
A little girl was standing at the end of the line for a relay race. “Jesus said,” she announced to the kids around her (and especially in front of her) “that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
Preparing to play a game of freeze tag, I announced that I’d be “it” to start. A little girl protested, “But grown-ups don’t play games.”
“Who told you that?”
“My mother.” I envisioned a worn out mom reaching for any excuse and didn’t completely correct her. “Some adults play games,” I said.
“Bu not old ladies.”
Later, when the kids were begging for a rest, I pointed out that the old lady was still going.
Throughout the week I was reminded of some life lessons. Planning is important but flexibility is key. If “Duck, duck, goose” is still the hot game, we’ll keep on playing. If they’re hot and tired I’ll come up with something to play sitting down under the shade of the tent. If, however, they are full of energy I can lead a fierce round of “Head, shoulders, knees and toes.” It’s been over twenty years since I was a children’s minister but some things just come back to you.
And maybe the most important lesson of all: some kids learned about God’s love from the Bible stories and teaching and the songs we sang together. Some learned it straight from the mouth of the Apostle Paul who came by to visit.
But some of them learned about God’s love for them because there were these grown-ups (even old ladies) who played with them, hit-fived them and even let them fall on top of the old lady in a huge, squirming, giggling pile of children.
I know that this is true because when I was a kid there were adults who risked hearing loss while we pounded designs into the leather on top of wooden picnic tables, leather to be used in the coin purses we were making that would wind up holding about two dimes. There were adults who were silly with me and adults who smiled when they saw me. Adults who gave us hugs and high fives and cheered us on while we played.
My church told me God loved me. But I knew it must be true because of the way that God’s family loved me.
This church now, they lied to me though. They said that no pay came with this position. But they were wrong. I have never been paid as richly. I come to the end of the week with pair of well hugged knees.
And it doesn’t get much richer than that.