Friday, June 28, 2013

The Theology of Vacation Bible School

One of the good aspects of being the Arts and Crafts leader at Vacation Bible School is that I stay safely tucked away in the Arts and Crafts area.  I thought about this last night when the clean up didn't take as long, and I could see the evening wrap up.  In going over what we learned last night, my ears latched onto one idea, the idea that Jesus came to save us so that we could be in Heaven with him when we die.  It made me a bit fretful that the evening's lessons had focused on our sinful natures.  It also made me wonder about the time between childhood and death.

We can be with Jesus right now.  We don't have to wait until we die.

I don't subscribe to the Jesus as sacrificial lamb theology that we get in so many churches.  Last night's closing session made me wonder what a VBS curriculum that was centered on a different theology would look.  For example, what if VBS taught kids a Rob Bell/Brian McLaren kind of approach. 

You may be wondering why Jesus died on the cross if not to save us from our sins.  I would argue that Jesus died on the cross because he ran afoul of the authorities, because his Gospel of social justice was so radical that the people with power saw him as a threat that had to be extinguished.

The story that I love to tell (to borrow old hymn language) is the one of a creation that is in the process of redemption right now, and we get to play a part.  The story that I love to tell is one of God who doesn't stay in Heaven, distant and removed,   Our God so much wants to be part of our lives that we find God showing up in all sorts of unlikely places.

We get our VBS materials from Concordia, the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, the very conservative brand of Lutheran practice, so I shouldn't be surprised at the theology of the materials.  Part of me thinks that most of the theology that the week imparts is good theology, so I shouldn't worry about some of the stranger concepts.

I remind myself that much of my theology would be very strange to many people.  I remember a conversation that I had with a grad school friend where I said that I thought the idea of Heaven was very nice, but that it wasn't the reason why we should be Christians.  She said, "If there's no Heaven, then I don't see why anyone would bother with any of this."

I know that she's got a majority view.  I do not.

So let me focus on the good things we've stressed this week.  We've focused on the idea that God loves us.  We've focused on praying for what we need.  We've focused on how our families and friends can help us stay strong.  We've learned great Bible stories, like the story of Esther and the story of Jesus.

Tonight we finish, and Sunday we worship.  Overall, it's been a good week.

But I want to think about creating alternate curriculum--not necessarily in the next few years, but I want to be ready, just in case some company should say, "Here's a chunk of money.  Create your dream Vacation Bible School."

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