Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Preacher’s Corner
Vacation Bible School still a highlight of summertime
For the past few weeks we’ve been getting ready for Vacation Bible School at our place, with the Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians joining forces to get the job done. I’m exhausted already, and I really do not have any hard work! Those who lead the singing, supervise the play, prepare the refreshments, tell the stories, make the crafts, clean up, and other wise bear the heat will be in bed recovering. It will be an exciting few days!
The Rev. Milton Whatley, our colleague at First Methodist, is the newest of the three sponsoring clergy, and I think he knows now 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.
Our 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 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 aluminum cans!
I do recall being terribly disappointed that Ann Ross, 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!
I will confess I worry greatly about the decline in religious commitment among 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. I hope lots of children turn out for Bible School at our place, and at all churches that have one this summer.
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