No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
The VBS leader looks out over the volunteers and children gathered and says, “ When life is unfair...” Hundreds voices shout “ God is good!” “And when life is scary...”, she continues. The children scream even louder “God is good!”. Smiles and laughter all around. Many years ago I volunteered as a VBS 2nd grade teacher. After listening politely to the story of Jesus raising the little girl back to life, a precocious 6 year old asked me, “ Why can't Jesus bring my Grammy back to life?” Since then I've stuck to games and snack duties. In addition, I've wondered if we are doing our children a favor by indoctrinating them with charming stock phrases of faith. How will these stock phrases wear when that girl or boy runs smack dab into brokenness of this world?
And the world indeed is broken and evil exists. Two weeks ago 37 year- old Clayton Stocks was bit by a bee, suffered anaphylactic shock, followed by a heart attack that left him in a coma from which he could not wake up. Last week his family said goodbye as he was wheeled into surgery which would allow his organs to live on in others. Clayton's mother is an acquaintance. In late June a young Colorado man went to Lisbon, Portugal, for a few days before flying on to meet up with a friend for a summer European trip. The night before his flight out, he never returned to his hotel. Days went by. His family flew to Portugal. Later his body was found in a Lisbon waterway. Alex Tyk was my younger son's housemate. Two tragedies. Too many unanswered questions. The unimaginable.
Perhaps the VBS themes and the delightfully simple songs the children love to sing and dance to are the framing for a foundation yet to be poured. It creates a space in the heart that can be filled with a connection to God or Jesus, with wisdom and maturity later cementing the connection with God's all powerful love. So when the winds of misfortune blow life apart or the hand of evil shatters that which is beautifully dear, the foundation has a chance of remaining. A symbol of resistance, of determination, of hope in the power of love. Perhaps the once children will know that the word, Jesus, is near to them, both in their hearts and on their lips.
Let us be good Samaritans in the weeks ahead and remember in prayer the Stock and Tyk families as they live with the unimaginable.
Mary Beth Frederick