Sunday, June 23, 2013

On the Eve of Vacation Bible School

For the past several weeks, I've been waking up in the middle of the night worried about all sorts of aspects of the home buying process:  inspections and money, primarily.  One night this past week, I woke up in a panic because I hadn't bought paper plates for Vacation Bible School.  I reminded myself that I still have time, and I drifted back to sleep.

This week-end, however, is the time to get all my supplies together.  I'm mostly there.  Over on my theology blog, I wrote this post that explains what we'll be doing each day.

That post also talks about why I enjoy Vacation Bible School so much.  I'm always interested at people's reactions to finding out that I'll be spending my evenings as Arts and Crafts director at VBS.  Most people are baffled.  Some people ask why I'm doing this when I don't have children, and therefore I don't have to do it.

There are all sorts of reasons.  I started doing it because I was fairly new to the church, someone asked me if I wanted to help her with Arts and Crafts at VBS, and I was flattered to be asked.  To my surprise, it was much more fun than I expected it to be.

I continue to find it fun.  It's a great group project.  I like working with all the people who come to help with VBS.  I like getting to know the children of the congregation in a different way.  And I love feeling so useful. 

When I was young, I didn't realize how much effort it takes to put on a week of VBS.  I assumed that it was like Sunday School.  I didn't think about the meals and all the different kinds of activities.

Now I'm older, and I see that VBS is an all hands on deck kind of production.  And happily, we all seem to like different aspects.  I've written before about last year's experience of being Arts and Crafts director.  I didn't volunteer for that position for weeks because I assumed that everyone would want that position, and I didn't want to greedily gobble it up.

To my knowledge, nobody wanted that job, and the planners were happy to give it to me.  And I came away with all sorts of insights.

Here's the most important one:  I crossed a dream job off my list.  I always assumed I would love being an Arts and Crafts teacher at an elementary school.  Now I'm fairly sure I would hate that job.  Not that it matters, as I am not qualified for that job, and those jobs are disappearing.

A few years ago I realized how little of these arts activities students get in school these days, especially as they get older.  I used to think that spiritual training was one of the more important aspects of VBS, but now I also see additional values.  One of the more important ones that I see is the chance to play with art supplies and musical instruments.

But in Vacation Bible School, we aren't playing with art supplies just for the sake of playing with art supplies.  I've chosen activities that could bring us closer to God or help us think about God in different ways.

That sounds so lofty.  I know that some nights, I'll be doing well to keep the chaos under control.  I won't be able to draw the larger lessons from the art supplies.

I will keep my eye on the larger goal:  arts and crafts time should be fun.  I'm part of the team who helps children love VBS.  VBS gives children all sorts of resources for their future.

Don't get me wrong:  I'm not the kind of woman who's concerned with saving souls and getting children to heaven.  But I do think that life throws us all sorts of challenges, and we'll need all the resources we can muster.  I want children to remember the joy of arts and crafts.  I want children to remember church as that cool place that gave them great summer experiences, a place where they might find strength and comfort when and where they need it.  I want them to remember that strength and comfort may include being part of a team that puts together a great VBS experience.

What's most important to me is to provide an alternative vision to the way that Christians come across in the media.  We're not all fire and brimstone judgmental types.  Some of us want to play with clay and think about spiritual formation that way.  Some of us want to return to our drama club selves.  Some of us walk labyrinths and don't talk much at all.

1 comment:

Heather Harris said...

Well said and oh so true!