Vacation Bible School is an extremely special thing. I still sing a VBS song every time I spell “Christian.” And I couldn’t even read when I learned it.
I used to think I was helping with VBS to give back to the world all the effort that was spent on my C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N education growing up. So, everytime I stapled my finger while turning the narthex into a bat cave, every time I came home covered in marshmellow gunk or glitter glue or just general toddler gunk, every time I compromised my dignity as a totally awesome teenagaer who was way too cool for silly hats and decorating cookies and dancing in circles…all if that was because someone else did it for me.
But I soon evolved from feeling that way. It was more like being part of a legacy. Like my efforts ensured that this ministry would continue living and growing and I was partially to thank for that.
But this year, I was put with the oldest group. Let’s face it, upper-elementary school kids are just too tradgically cool for glitter glue and the Holy Macarena. So the past three nights have been rough for me, someone who, let’s face it, is too tadgically lame for anything besides VBS. I spent two exhausting nights with mostly boys who would rather throw hymnals than dance. But tonight, after having a heart-to-hearts conversation (and Mr Anderson came in….) They all sang and danced liked you wouldn’t believe. Truly heart-happying if you ask me.
I get more out if it now than I did when I was little. Seeing kids so filled with such a simple live and emitting such a simple faith reminds me that it is all simple.
VBS is as important to me as it is to the kids. I couldn’t write and read about all the awful things I have the past two days with out the little fourth and fifth grade hope glitters dancing around my life each night. How faith-stretching it is to be a part of such a precious experience. To witness such a large Witness from such small witnesses doesn’t quite feel like a sacrifice or a service, but more a blessing. VBS Sunday is my fourth favorite Sunday (behind Youth Sunday, Easter Sunday and Palm/pancake Sunday) for a reason. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us the rest of this week.
Today I was listening to This American Life. It was a segment on politics in Wisconsin. Funding of public education has completely changed the face of the Wisconsin. May of this year, two women sat outside a doctor’s office collecting signatures to recall Julie Lassa, a congresswoman, forcing her to rerun for her seat in the middle of her term after she flew to Idaho to avoid voting on a piece of controversial legislation. The middle-aged women were there behind a folding table every night for three hours, and a good portion of the day on Saturdays. Rain, sleet or snow for months. When NPR was out there recording them, a woman drove by and yelled “I LOVE JULIE LASSA!!” One of the women only had this to say:
“I don’t not love her. I think she’s a great mom.”
This woman was so passionate about getting Julie Lassa out of office that she dedicated hours and days and months to getting enough signatures to get her out of office. And yet, she still admired her for being a great mom. This is startling to me, but refreshing.
So often we see they people for what think or what they vote on or what icon is on their facebook, but we so often overlook the things that they are. So many people are great moms, and we’re missing out on that, because we don’t want them to be good.
But I think that everyone has a great mom quality about them that makes them admirable. And everyone has a policy or a belief or a standard that I can agree with and stand up for. I also think it’s a shame to miss out on any of that for the petty matters.
“Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!”‘ Acts 2:13-15
I think it is so beautifully fitting that we commission our mission trippers on this day. No one can appear drunk on Jesus like the hundreds of high school and junior high youth scattering like Holy Glitter along the Gulf Coast today. Not only will they touch porches and roofs and walls and floors and doors, but also the hearts they meet and the hearts they have known already.
It takes a very special ministry to make it feel okay to wear scrub pants and overalls and orange jumpsuits and silly hats. To make it feel okay to sing at the top of your lungs and to climb up onto roofs sixty feet in the air. The Holy Spirit always guides this crazy, God-drunken youth and adults. That’s the beautiful thing about it. It provides an opportunity to cut lose from all the ties that bind you to be normal and well spoken and to blend in. When your heart lets go of all the brokenness and stress and expectation that comes with your normal and self-serving and expected routine, there is so much more room to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to go and share and show it. Even when it means being undignified. Especially then.
And so, for those of us left behind this week, I would ask you to pray for the lives being touched this week and for the ties that hold our youth home to be cut for a week. But in addition to that, I want to ask you to let go of what’s holding you home at some point this week. I challenge you to be undignified and to let the Holy Spirit move through you in a way you haven’t before. Whether that means saying something or doing something or being something. See if god is calling you to do something unexpected this week, and open your heart to it.
Lord, please hold close those travelling to do your work this week. Open their hearts to the experience you have in store for them and let their labor be a testimony to your Love. Bless them and those they touch as you put forth motion in their lives this week. Guide those of us at home, helping us to grow in our everyday experiences, making us closer to you. Help us to all be instruments of your Grace, never fearing the judgments passed on us or the expectations held for us other than yours. Amen.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
The United States prison system has a 50% recidivism rate. I see people everyday who are discovering what they are passionate about. I know people who were born to play music or work with special needs children or sell people life insurance or feed people or teach people or preach to people or stand up for people. But I see a lot of people who wander. A lot of people who haven’t found what type of justice they are meant to fight for or who haven’t found what type of love their meant to show. A lot of the time, this is because they never got the oppurunity due to something else that has happened to them. But I really believe that everyone has a thing.
I’m not sure what mine is. All I really know is that I like to give people some Jesus and I like to help their find thing. And I also know that a little bit goes a long way in helping people on their path. Forgive, Don’t Forget is a part of Prison Fellowship. Their Get A Shirt, Give a Shirt ministry ensures that for every tshirt you buy, a dress shirt and tie will be given to a recently released inmate so they have nice clothes to wear to job interviews. Having the right attire to an interview significantly increases the chances of being hired, and employment significantly decreases the chances of recidivism. This puts these men one step closer to finding their path and their purpose. Below, you can watch the video from Prison Fellowship.
“Remember those in prison as if you were in prison with them” – Hebrews 13:3
The first time I heard this song was on Mission Trip in Asheville, North Carolina. I had just finished the most difficult week of my life in which I learned how to man hammer and learned that being a ray of sunshine is even more important than being good at roofing. That week than the speaker gave us all a bottle of water and asked us to wash the feet of someone we encountered that day. And I was a stupid junior high kid so I didn’t do it. I’ve been on mission trips when I thought I wouldn’t learn anything because I was WITH junior high kids. But I have never had an experience like letting someone borrow my faith for a week and coming home with their own.
So, to all the mission trippers this week–both #ctcym11 and #BeCommunity–I will be praying for you and thinking of you as you go out to do amazing things this week. Don’t let the week leave you without letting your heart get everything out of this experience that it can. Open yourself up and let someone borrow your faith. The mission is more than the labor, don’t let it stop there for you.