Tonight, Vacation Bible School begins at Jefferson church. Lots of preparation and prayer have resulted in a lot of excitement at JUMC. Our theme is "Water Works Park: Where Kids Ride the Wave of God's Love". (That's just cheesy enough to serve as a contender for an Annual Conference theme, but I digress...)
We've made some changes this year that have boosted the excitement level. Several of our newer members have gotten involved, bringing new ideas and joy to the ministry. We're also, for the first time, holding VBS in the evening rather than in the morning, so, while we're not sure what to expect in terms of numbers, we've gotten a lot more adult and teen helpers who have a greater availability post-dinner.
I really enjoy VBS and look forward to it each year, largely because my own faith journey was "jump started" by a VBS ministry. Though I was baptized as a baby in early 1971 (in a Presbyterian church), that event was the extent of my church involvement for many years. I befriended the Elston family in Johnstown, PA, and they invited my brother and I to the VBS held at their church, Westmont UMC. We loved it. The Elstons told us that if we enjoyed VBS, we might like Sunday School and worship each week as well. They picked us up every Sunday (along with their own 5 children) and took us to church. The Elstons and Westmont UMC found a way to love two obnoxious, goofy-looking, loud twin boys, and we experienced the love of God in a very real, tangible way.
Church camp followed (at both Camp Allegheny and Jumonville), extensive involvement in children and youth ministries and, eventually, a puppet ministry, and in 1983 I was confirmed (in April) and surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus (in June). While my faith and my understanding of Christianity has grown a great deal since those days, my roots are way back in Westmont's VBS and the faithfulness of the Elston family.
So, VBS is a special time for me. I can't help but get excited about the idea that we may touch at least one child with the grace of God, and that because of our faithfulness this week, the touch may have a lasting impact on this life.