I don't know about you, but when I get someone a gift, I LOVE to see them use it and enjoy it. The more thought I put into that particular gift, the more I want to see that person use it. If that gift isn't being used, I might even pester that person with "Why aren't you using the thing I got you??". There's something about seeing a gift in action that brings me joy.
If we have that perspective when getting good gifts for each other, imagine God carefully making each and every person special and in his own image. He creatively shapes our personalities, our strengths, and our opportunities in this life. God specially designed each of us with gifts to serve him. We can be sure he LOVES to see us put those to good use.
This past Sunday, we celebrated the welcome of several new members to our church! That alone was a wonderful gift. It was the perfect Sunday to talk about what it means to belong to Christ as his member and how that translates to being a member of the local church. A key part of being a member of the church is looking for opportunities to use our gifts to serve God in this world. This week during Vacation Bible School, I got to see a LOT of gifts being put into action all at once. I can't recap the whole week yet, but I can give you a preview of so many ways the body of Christ was at work! Here's some examples:
First of all, there was some serious planning behind the scenes to put this all together, fitting volunteers into positions to best serve, getting all the details figured out, sometimes adapting on the fly. Then there are the group activities. Volunteers leading creative and interactive ocean-themed games, a stand with clever snacks like Jell-O with gummy sharks, or gold fish from "Miss Linda's Fish Market". There's craft time, where volunteers helped each kid put their own creative gifts to good use. "Professor Sharktopolous" taught the kids all about the ocean God made and captured their attention with some jaw-dropping experiments. Teachers used their own creativity in teaching important Bible lessons, dramatically showing and telling the story from the Bible, sometimes using some serious props! People on stage teaching the songs, recapping each night, and telling fun ocean-themed jokes. We can't forget the group leaders, staying with the same group of kids each night, getting to know their names, leading them from station to station, sometimes sitting down and answering some big faith questions.
Vacation Bible School is just one week to serve in the life of the church, but in that one week you see a lot of gifts put on display all at once. As a pastor, it brings me pride and joy to see so many people in unique places showing the love of Jesus to these kids. We do things like VBS because we believe some important truths about God and his love for children. We believe each child both inside and outside our church is made in His image. We believe that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these and Jesus welcomes them to come unto him. We believe that the Holy Spirit stirs in our hearts a longing to be with and serve our Creator God. And we believe God can cause the seeds planted in one week to grow into great trees of faith. God delights when he gives us good gifts and we put them to good use in his kingdom. Thanks be to God for a week of serving!