It’s that time again! Churches all over the globe are planning an event we know as Vacation Bible School. VBS (as it’s been called for over a century in America) is alive and well, and still doing what it was originally designed to do: teach children the Bible.
I fondly remember VBS at my home church in Geneva, AL in the 50’s and 60’s. We started every “opening assembly” the same way—with a processional led by flag and Bible bearers into the sanctuary. The words to all the songs and the memory verses for the week were projected on a badly lit freestanding screen from an old, loud projector with a filmstrip advanced by hand when it was time for the next slide. In our small town, the churches staggered their dates so that in most summers a kid could attend 4 or 5 weeks of VBS. Ah, those were the days!
Now most Vacation Bible Schools are themed. Kids can “experience” exhilarating journeys, visit exotic places, and get involved in sports adventures all to make the week fun and memorable as they learn great biblical truths. Technology and creativity have enhanced the VBS experience greatly, but the goal is the same—teach children the Bible. Scripture memory is still an emphasis; music still plays an integral part in this process; activities still support the goals. The methods may have changed, but the message and the objective remain: teach children the Bible. I retain verses (from the King James Version, of course) to this day because of VBS.
Aside from the great Bible lessons I learned as a VBS-er, there were other treasured experiences that are indelible in my memory. For example…
- Anticipation of getting a red Popsicle at snack time will make me squirm to distraction.
- The receiving of a red Popsicle is valid reason to praise God outwardly.
- Watered-down Kool-Aid and a single butter cookie aren’t as good as a red Popsicle.
- A melting red Popsicle can stain a new cotton t-shirt your mama said not to get dirty. (Worth the scolding, however.)
- Three cars decorated with crepe paper streamers and a hand-made sign that says “Come to Vacation Bible School” is a sanctioned parade—permit or not—and all that’s needed to promote the upcoming event.
- Uncooked macaroni glued to a paper plate is a legitimate VBS craft and often qualifies as “art” on the wall of daddy’s office.
- A simple melody can tell me when to stand up or sit down. (Some of you won’t get this.)
8. Other than the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, there are other pledges that are just as meaningful. This is how I learned them:
“I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; one brotherhood uniting all mankind in service and in love.”
“I pledge allegiance to the Bible—God’s Holy Word—and will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and I will hide its words in my heart so I might not sin against God.”
I am grateful for this spiritual heritage and count those summers as some of the most valuable learning experiences of my life.