Monday, July 28, 2014

Community Matters



July 27, 2014

Community Vacation Bible School Worship

We gathered for worship with five other churches to celebrate our third community Vacation Bible School. Our VBS program this year was "Workshop of Wonders from Cokesbury.


The top attendance day, we had 94 children!
The week was wonderful, entertaining and exhausting!

Worship was exciting, inspiring, and fun!
Sauk Valley Gazette picture:

The children led us in singing, we celebrated communion together, and enjoyed the fellowship. The scripture presentation was the story of Esther, led by Nannette Pashon, Director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church. I followed up with these brief comments:

Did you like that story?
Me too. It is a favorite of many.
It has all the elements of a good melodrama – a beautiful and smart woman, a good-hearted and wise man, a powerful king, and a totally despicable bad guy. That makes the story fun to hear, fun to read. Something interesting about the book of Esther is that nowhere in it is the name of God mentioned. But we see how faithfulness and commitment motivate Esther and Mordecai, and how a lust for power and control motivate Haman. That is a good lesson to learn.

Another important lesson from this book is Esther’s courage to do the right thing, not for herself, but for her people.Esther honors community and the greater good even at risk of her own life! Few of us can honestly say that we would do the same – risk our lives on behalf of another, or on behalf of a whole group of people, most of whom we don’t even know. It requires setting aside our own personal desires on behalf of something greater than ourselves.That kind of commitment is what propels our community VBS leaders.

I’m sure you are aware that all six of the churches are pretty different – different styles of worship, different kinds of leadership, even some different beliefs. But what we demonstrate in this collaborative effort on behalf of our community is that we are ONE CHURCH – not six, just one, for this one week.

Just one church.

The Apostle Paul sums that up in Ephesians 4 - “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

We live that out during Community VBS –and we hope that the children feel that one-ness. Even the littlest ones - as they wait for others to be served first, or practice sharing, or learn to play together nicely, and the big kids, too, and the grown-ups – we hope and pray that everyone feels that one-ness and the presence of God’s Spirit moving among us and within us.

I know I can speak for everyone when I say that’s our commitment – to invite children, and each other, and each one of you, into a space where we joyfully experience our unity in Christ. We’re not like Esther – we are not risking our lives for this.

But every person who donates and teaches and cooks and leads and shows up and brings kids and prays for us is a demonstration of that commitment to something greater, something more important than a single congregation or denomination, or a single person’s plans.

Our commitment is not to our individual churches.
Our commitment is to Jesus - the one who actually did give his life for us, who taught us how to love our neighbor, and even taught us to love our enemies.He is the one who gathers our congregations together, who gives us life and vision and hope. He is the one in whom we live and move and have our being.

May each one of us continue to hear his voice, to love and know him more, and give thanks and praise to our wonderful God. Thanks be to God for the gift of community!

Amen.

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