The Pastor’s Piece – June 23, 2024

The Pastor’s Piece


June 23, 2024

We just wrapped up a week of Vacation Bible School at our church. Every year at this time

we host four mornings of jam-packed activities centered on Jesus Christ and His life, death,

and resurrection. This year’s theme was “Hometown Nazareth – Where Jesus Was A Kid.”

The sanctuary and the Fellowship Hall were transformed to look like what Nazareth may

have looked like in Jesus’ day. The Bible lessons each day focused on Jesus growing up

and then going to the cross to pay for our sins and rising from the dead, giving eternal life to

those who put their trust in Him. The games and the crafts carried that theme. A lot of work

goes into the decorations, the crafts, the games, and the snacks. Our volunteers put a lot of

thought and effort into making these experiences unique and life-changing. It’s an amazing

week and the rewards are beyond words.

We get the whole church involved. Our student to staff ratio is 2:1. Dozens and dozens of

children and volunteers participate every day. One might think that it would become

overwhelming to try to keep that many kids focused and behaved at once. But it is not. The

kids are so well-behaved I think their parents would not believe it. There’s a lot of energy in

the room, but when directed in the right direction, that energy turns into joy and happiness

and it is displayed in children’s faces. They are lit up with joy.

I have the privilege each year of teaching the Bible lesson. It can be a challenge trying to

tell the story of the good news of Jesus to a group of people with so many different

backgrounds and levels of Bible knowledge. It may be a challenge for us, but it’s not for

God. He knows how to make His Word relevant in each one’s life – young and old alike. And

that is our prayer every day.

We also have two 15 passenger vans out on the highways and byways picking up students

who need a ride. I get to drive one of those vans. There is no joy quite like the joy of pulling

into a driveway and seeing the kids standing in line waiting, and then cheering and jumping

for joy at the sight of the church van. The anticipation of what the morning holds simply

overwhelms them. And in my mind – it’s good to be a kid again.

And it’s more than just the kids that benefit. Our motto is, “VBS is for everybody.” We invite

young and old alike to attend. Along with our seasoned adults, some of our teenagers are

assigned to travel with one of our three groups of youngsters from station to station. Many

adults work in the Fellowship Hall and kitchen preparing and serving snacks and cleaning

up afterward. Many parents come just to observe and be involved from a distance. Some

bring their older children, then stay with their babies. Everyone participates. And God gets

the glory.

At my last stop yesterday, while dropping the kids off at their homes, the dad of one of our

students struck up a conversation with me in the driveway. He stood outside in the hot sun

while I sat in the van with the window down, enjoying the cool air-conditioning while we

talked. His neighbor saw us chatting and decided to come over and join us. It didn’t take

long for him to jump into our conversation about VBS, although he was a bit of a skeptic

when it came to the Jesus talk. He didn’t know how anything or anyone could help him in

his current situation. His wife had just left him. He had a lot of regrets and sorrows and was

just not in a good place. He listened while my friend explained the love of Jesus to him and

how God doesn’t just automatically remove us from our problems, but He does promise to

walk with us as we go through them. My friend then invited him to church. He said he was

not much of a church guy, but he would consider it. He gave him directions on how to get

there and that’s where we left it.

As I look back on that conversation, I can’t help but think of the old saying: “When all else

fails, read the directions.” We have the Operator’s Manual of life right in our hands in the

Word of God – the Bible. There God identifies our problem (we are sinners in need of a

Savior) and gives us the solution to all life’s problems. And that solution is a relationship

with God through Jesus Christ. That’s the broad stroke of the brush. Individually, He cares

about each one of us and is waiting for us to reach out to Him. Too many people won’t even

consider God’s way, even when they are mired in the muck of life and see no way out. I

want to know: How is life without reference to God working out for you?

When all else fails, read the directions. God tells us how to rise above the circumstances of

life – self-inflicted or not – And He sets us up on the high ground.

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin