This past week was week two of our Vacation Bible School Marathon. On week 1 we have a program run by one of our church camps; it's sort of like going to Bible Camp without actually going away. The only thing missing is the campfire by the lake.
This second week is staffed by -- us -- the Children's Ministry Coordinator, a huge staff of volunteers, many of them junior and senior high school students. We have traditional Bible School in the morning (although current curriculums stretch the definition of 'traditional') and in the afternoon, field trips. I take a more active role the second week as well. I am a large part of the team that introduces the story and the theme of the day.
This year's program (many of you will recognize) was "Pandamania: where God is 'wild' about you!" Though it was a great and well-written program in many ways, I'm still trying to solve the mystery of why it is called "Pandamania."
Anyway, I have to say -- I just have about 1/2 an hour a day (as well as preparation time, of course), and I'm still exhausted every day. This year we built an altar to Yahweh (and sacrified a candy bar instead of a bull, thank God); we made crafts representing the day of creation; we got inside a smelly "great fish" to hear part of the story of Jonah, and we ran into Peter while hiding from the Roman right after Jesus' crucifixion. Whew! I get tired even writing about it.
I need better vitamins.
Every day's lesson included a short phrase and the response: "Thank you God." So on Monday, we learned that God Made Us. "Thank you, God!" On Tuesday, we learned that God Listens to Us. "Thank You God!" On Wednesday, we learned that "God watches over Us.!" "Thank you, God." You get the idea.
The idea is also to say "Thank you, God!" AS LOUDLY AS YOU CAN.
Some things worked better than others. Not everyone appreciated the authentic 'fishy' smell inside the fish, for example. The fish had a slight malfunction as well. But building the altar was terrific, and right before we were going to call on God to send fire on our sacrifice (candy bar), a firefighter rushed in to warn us!
The best was when Peter came to visit us. There we were, hiding in the chapel. Peter burst in, and ended up telling us his whole story, how Jesus was his best friend, all the things he saw, and how he let Jesus down. He felt so bad I thought he was going to cry.
Then I asked the children if they had any words for Peter, to make him feel better. They did.
"Don't feel bad, Peter," one said. "God will give you a second chance." "Jesus loves you and he's always your friend," said another. "Jesus will take you back," said another one. "Jesus will help you," said someone else. "Don't give up!" I heard someone say.
Thank you, God.