Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Preacher’s Corner
VBS is an exciting few days for ‘our’ three churches
Since last we met there has been a Vacation Bible School at our place, with the Methodists and Episcopalians joining forces to get the job done. I’m exhausted, and I really did not have hard work! Those who led the singing, supervised the play, prepared the refreshments, told the stories, made the crafts, cleaned up, and otherwise bore the heat of the day must be in bed recovering. It was an exciting few days!
The Rev. Milton Wadley, our new colleague at First Methodist, whom we welcome to Holly Springs, will find that one of the benefits of his assignment here is that because three churches cooperate in this Bible School (as they have for a generation and more), the responsibility comes to a particular pastor only once every three years. But Bible Schools are chiefly organized by lay folk, and it is heartening to see people rise up and shoulder the load. My hat is off to the good mamas, daddies, and grandparents who make it all happen.
Just about the time I convince myself by watching the evening news that the younger generation has sunk into barbarism and that all is wrong with the world, we have one of our little Bible Schools and I am happily reminded that there is a good residue of charity and kindness among the folk of our small towns. I am sure this experience is repeated in churches all across the land.
For my own part, I feel I owe a good deal to Bible School by way of penance. We had one each summer of my boyhood, and I certainly remember my attendance. I can recall no particulars of the lessons whatsoever, except that it was the one time of the year we played in the large backyard of our old church, and I do recall with great pleasure being introduced to those wonderful Sunshine Orange drinks in the brown glass bottles. They were so delicious and so refreshing; nothing so fine could be poured out of an aluminum can!
I do recall being terribly disappointed that my “regular” Sunday school teacher, whom I loved, was not my teacher for Bible School. (Even then I found it difficult to adjust to change.) I suppose I thought Bible school would just be a week of Sunday school. Here in Holly Springs our “regular” Presbyterian Sunday school teachers also lead in Bible school, so at least “my” children do not have to cope with that particular trauma!
And I also must recount with shame that one day I played hooky from Bible school. As soon as my mother let us out of the car, when we felt “the coast was clear,” my friend Marx and I tiptoed down the alley and went home to my house, where we were soon found playing in the back yard. I had no idea how we were “discovered” although I now realize my grandmother could have seen us quite clearly from the kitchen window where she was probably baking a pie for our lunch! After a good talking to, we were returned to Bible school, and ever since I have been loath to skip church.
I will confess I worry greatly about the decline in religious commitment among so many people. There is certainly a sense of faith and morality. It is just expressed differently, and does not always entail organizational involvement. But still, I think, even when all the church’s hypocrisies and foibles are taken into account, there is something to be gained from that commitment — a kind of refinement and discipline of our concerns — that will be lost if ever we let the church pass completely out of our living.
A Vacation Bible School is a very small thing among the pillars of our civilization. But one a very long time ago saved me for the church and shaped my life.
So perhaps our efforts in the summers of this era are not wasted, and we have done some good with our efforts and our prayers.
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