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Love was the real treasure at this year's VBS

Pastor Tom finally got to wear his island shirts for this year's VBS.  OBTW--the whole week was about love.
Pastor Tom finally got to wear his island shirts for this year's VBS. OBTW--the whole week was about love.
Tom Spence

It happens every year about this time. That’s right, it was Vacation Bible School week.

Every day there were 60 or 70-some children here for the SonTreasure Island VBS. The VBS ran smoothly because there were also about 30 helpers.

Wow! Only 7 years ago we couldn’t find anyone to help with VBS.

The problem with VBS is that the pastor spends the whole week with VBS songs in his head that keep bouncing around when he is trying to listen to God impart his message.

After several years I learned that I did not have to block out all of the VBS stuff to hear God’s message. His message was very much in the loud music, the children who were living to the full, and the helpers who gave up much time to make sure that VBS changed lives.

God’s message was tactile and kinesthetic moving about all around me in the children learning about God’s love and the helpers who were being God’s love.

This was very much an Old Testament VBS. That is to say, we took the proverb to heart.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train up a child in the way he should go and later on he will not depart from it.

The Good News Translation says, “Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.”

We could have our children lean a whole bunch of rules, and often we do, but rules won’t finish the work. Kids need more than rules.

They need to understand purpose.

Why do my parents and my teachers and the pastor and the elders want me to live a certain way?

Why in the world am I even alive? What is the point to all of this?

Maybe the point of life is that you get ice cream if you are good.

Maybe the point of life is that the more rules you obey, the more Santa is going to bring you.

Maybe the point of life is big chocolate bunnies at Easter.

Ice cream, chocolate bunnies, and more toys—that has to be it.

The problem is that a diet of sugar and plastic don’t make for very good living. In fact, that sort of living is full of stomach aches and heart aches. It might seem sweet and shiny at first, but it just doesn’t last.

What if our purpose and our enjoyment was all—yes, I really mean all—rooted in God?

What if our life was all about loving God and enjoying him as much as we can?

This week at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Burns Flat, Oklahoma, children from Pre-K to 6th grade learned 5 things about God’s love.

· We know God’s love through Jesus. God loved us so much that he came into the world as a man and lived as a man and suffered as a man and died as a man. Why? Because God loves us.

· We know that love is patient and kind. Love helps us deal with other people when other people are not at their best or even when they are mean to us. Our human nature wants to get even. Love says, be patient, put up with others a bit longer as they struggle.

· God’s love is for everyone. Yes, some will reject God in every way that they can think of, but God is reaching out to everyone. We are a part of that. The Holy Spirit is a part of that. Those Gospels of John that I send out with people all the time are a part of that too. Not all of these seeds will fall on good ground, but we are called to sow them anyway.

· God’s love is forgiving. Let’s just skip that one. Forgiveness seems like something that God can do but that is just too hard for us. But it is not too hard. It is incredibly difficult but unbelievably liberating. Out of the entire Lord’s Prayer—the model prayer that Jesus gave us, he only saw fit to make a commentary on one thing. He said, get this forgiveness stuff right. Forgive. God’s love is forgiving. We need to be a forgiving people.

· God’s love never fails. God has never stopped loving us and never will.

There are three scriptures that I refer to often in many contexts, but they are most appropriate here.

Jeremiah 31:3

John 3:16

John 13:34-35

They answer 3 simple questions. How long will God love us? How much does he love us? Finally, what are we going to do about it?

The answers are that God has never stopped loving us and never will.

He loved us so much that he sent his one and only son to take the sin of the world upon himself so that we might live now, abundantly, and eternally.

What will we do in response? We are to love one another.

Love one another.

God loves you.

Love one another.

Amen.