In one of their attempts to repair their image after the recent privacy debacle, Facebook has rolled out their latest feel-good photo collage videos that focus on the value of “community.” Their theme is “What we do together, matters.” The tag line: It’s the little things we do together and for each other that make community matter.
You would think that Mr Zuckerberg and friends have been visiting our Vacation Bible School this week at Shelby Crossings. What a beautiful picture of community has been displayed, without the sappy manufactured videos, as individuals came together as one to serve the Lord through serving children. What a joy it has been as a pastor to watch people use their gifts, serve with passion, live out and communicate the gospel, and have so much fun doing it.
I was thinking about VBS this past week as I studied through the Scripture on Elijah for my Sunday message, and how God works sometimes to bring us together. If you were with us Sunday, you know the story about how God provided for Elijah at the brook by the Kerith Ravine by commanding ravens to bring him meat and bread. And, of course, he had fresh water to drink there, even as the nation of Israel was experiencing years of extreme drought. It was a great set-up for the prophet.
Then, out of nowhere, the brook dried up. I have heard it said that where there is the right vision, there is God’s provision. Or, that God guides by what He provides. In other words, if the brook is dried up–or the money is not coming in–you must not be doing something right. But maybe sometimes the opposite is true. Perhaps there are times when God guides by what He does not provide.
In the case of Elijah, it was through the dried-up brook that the Lord led him from Kerith to Zarephath, where He had to teach him (and a widow) a little something else about God’s ability to meet every need. For us at Shelby Crossings, a prime example was how we funded, planned and staffed our Vacation Bible School.
Many of you know the story, how many years ago when the church was struggling and the economy was bottoming out, that we just didn’t have money in the budget to fund an expensive Bible school. Just to purchase the pre-planned “box” of that year’s popular theme for VBS was an expensive venture, plus the costs of decorations, craft supplies, recreation games and snacks can run into several thousands of dollars. We just didn’t have the money to do it.
We decided to do a Vacation Bible School anyway, but instead of buying it, we created it ourselves. We planned out our own theme, wrote our own drama scripts and sketches, prepared our own Bible studies from Scripture, made up our own crafts from donated supplies, and even got creative with the snacks and games. In doing so, we put to use the gifts and talents of dozens of talented people–and had our best VBS ever!
The next year, we did the same, and as the years have gone by we have continued the same creative approach to our own unique Bible schools, even when we found ourselves in better shape financially and could have funded the whole boxed deal. Year after year, the creative gifts of a body of believers working together demonstrates what church ministry can look like when everyone plays their part.
God in His infinite care gave to us what we might not have ever discovered had we not gone through our own lean years of a dried-up brook–the reality that “what we do together, matters.” And not only does it matter to us, it matters in the lives of the children and families who are touched for eternity sake with the love of Christ and the transforming truth of the gospel.
So, let me say “Thank you” to each of you who have served so faithfully and diligently this week. I know you are worn out; as the saying goes: “There’s no tired like VBS tired!” But know that your ministry, as part of the community of faith we call Shelby Crossings, matters. The Lord has been honored, and will continue to be as we “let our light shine before men, that they will see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
I am so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful church body. Let me also say again how grateful Nan and I are for your love and support–and prayers–during this time of me being sick. We appreciate you more than we could ever say.
Don’t forget our combined worship this Sunday, at 10:30, as we join together as a church body. I look forward to seeing you then.