To the outside world, I was a 14-year-old dressed in a Bible costume welcoming kindergartners into a highly-decorated preschool classroom. My co-leader and I greeted them asking if they had heard the news about Paul arriving in Rome. They giggled. They knew we were pretending, and we were indeed in the preschool classroom, not Bethany outside Jerusalem. We washed their feet and welcomed them to share a meal at our table. They helped us make bread and soup, grinding grain and kneading dough.
At some point between the foot washing and the bread breaking, they were calling my co-leader “Martha” and asking us questions about Jesus and the moment when our brother Lazarus had died and Jesus called him back to life. At the end of our rotation, the associate pastor came into the room… “Lazarus” had come home.
As I helped that summer at Vacation Bible Camp, I could remember being the child having my feet washed. To this day I can still sing a host of VBC songs and recite the scripture verses that accompanied each week. Research confirms anecdotes, immersive intergenerational community experiences of faith, experiences like VBC, are key to lifelong faith formation.
Next week our congregation will welcome 130 children and more than 60 volunteers to experience life as an Israelite in the wilderness. During the week, we will meet Miriam, Bazalel and Joshua. We will learn the stories of God’s faithfulness, even in difficult places. Many of our youth volunteers were once campers. They will lead prayers, share the stories, and guide students through life in an Israelite camp. The adult volunteers will help keep everyone on track and enjoy front-row seats as our young people journey toward the Promised Land.
For my part, I will be back in a costume, pretending to be Rachel, an Israelite charged with counting the tribes at the end of the day. I don’t know if everyone will remember the songs or cherish their craft projects, but I do know that from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., every child will have the opportunity to experience what it is to be a part of God’s story and heirs of God’s promises.
Want a sneak peek?
The tabernacle is already under construction. It is 8’X8’X24’ - keeping the ratios of the original tabernacle, which was 15’X15’x45’. During the course of the week, students will join more than 50 yards of canvas to cover the structure as well as creating a new Ark of the Covenant. We hope you’ll visit the finished tabernacle on Sunday, June 23.