Monday, April 17, 2017

Splashing In God's Living Waters

Vacation Bible School isn’t just about fun. I mean, sure, it is fun. But that’s only the second most important ingredient. For me, VBS first and foremost must be deeply theological. After all, being a part of the body of Christ is about digging deep and discerning together who God is and who we are in relationship to God. And whether or not the average three-year-old has any idea that God is right there in her VBS fun or not, it doesn’t change the fact that God is, in fact, right there. So when I set out to develop our theme each year, my first question to myself is: what, biblically, do I want to dig into, draw out, and explore with these kiddos.

This year, I thought of water. Specifically, I was thinking about one of my favorite stories: the Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus’ talk about “living water.”  From there, the phrase, “Splashing in God’s Living Waters” just sort of popped into my head (I think this is a lot how the Holy Spirit works in my life, which is way cool.) Beyond that, I didn’t give it too much thought. I just brought it to the team to kick around—I don’t work in a vacuum. Often (nearly always) God’s most profound insights are discovered when Christians come together to wrestle with God’s Word. So I dropped the theme on the group (Dottie Fergus, Jen Nelson, Pr. Jon and Steve Manacek). I said, “Let’s do a bunch of Bible stories about water.”

Then Pr. Jon said (and I’m paraphrasing because I can’t quite remember), “It’s all really about baptism.”

His words were like the Holy Spirit’s “Ice Bucket Challenge.” I was completely doused in the most breathtaking ice water deluge, accompanied by a voice from heaven saying, “Duh! Of COURSE it’s about baptism!” Okay, there wasn’t actually a voice, but there was (for me at least) this profound moment of clarity. I honestly hadn’t gone into it with the baptism idea in mind, and yet every story about water somehow comes back to baptism.

Water is AWESOME. Ordinary water can wear down mountains. Living water can break down our most intractable barriers, those walls we build between ourselves and the Other. Ordinary water nourishes life. Living water nourishes the spirit in ways so profound we can hardly comprehend it. Ordinary water washes away dirt and grime. Living water washes away Sin and Death. How can this NOT be the greatest VBS ever?

With baptism at the center, the dam broke wide open, and a cascade of ideas flowed outward, drenching all of us in excitement. We won’t just be dipping our toes in here, folks, we’re diving deep. The theme song started writing itself in my head not a day later. Here are the lyrics so far:

Splashing in God’s living waters,
Diving into the Word,
Rising up a new creation,
This is what we heard:

God said,
“You are my beloved daughter,
You are my beloved son,
You belong to me forever,
You’re new life has just begun!”

Hope you will join us this June as we douse these amazing kiddos with God’s living water!