by Rev. Kay Ash
There are a number of instances in the Bible where Jesus begins a parable with “The Kingdom of God is like . . . (or in the Gospel of Matthew – “The Kingdom of Heaven is like...). Jesus describes “the Kingdom” as a mustard seed, as leven, as a hidden treasure or as a merchant seeking pearls. The Kingdom of God seems to be “like” a lot of different things. If I could, I would add to the list: “The Kingdom of God is like . . . Vacation Bible School at Kessler Park United Methodist Church!”
We had a wonderful week together: 44 kids were loved and guided by almost as many adults and youth. There were fits of laughter and songs, stories and communion, science experiments and missional gifts prepared. All of us were focused - we spent the entire week loving God and loving each other. Simple, focused, pure – the Kingdom of God is like Vacation Bible School at Kessler Park UMC.
There is plenty of evidence to support our addition to the “Kingdom of God” list. Firstly, there were all the activities we did together. For example, our KPUMC campus was so full this summer (what a blessing!), it required us to hold portions of VBS in Robert’s Forest. We were initially concerned about the heat, but our time in the woods turned out to be great – the trees provided enough shade and cool. Each morning we sang out loud and beat trash can drums for all of our Kessler Park neighbors to hear! And during our outside Recreation rotation, the kids ran and played, searched for hidden clues and ate bright colored popsicles in the glory of Robert’s Forest. One day, the kids even stacked stone Ebenezers so we could remember to say “Thank You God” for all of our blessings!
If you need further evidence: our crazy and amazing Science rotation helped kids explore with photo sensitive paper and handmade boats that they sailed in a swimming pool. They even experimented with laughter! Not to be outdone in the Missions rotation, kids prepared gifts of games to give to the Wesley Rankin Center, blankets to give to the Linus Project, bandanas to give to Dog and Kitty City, placemats to give to The Well and, lastly, they made prayer beads to help them pray with their families. Even in storytelling it was clear that the Kingdom of God was very near. Each day a different adult shared a different Bible story and each day through careful attention, prayer, silence and ritual, the presence of God was unmistakable. Therefore, it seems very clear through our actions that the Kingdom of God is like Vacation Bible School at Kessler Park UMC.
That said, there is even more evidence to support this idea: smaller, quieter bits of evidence that popped up all through the week. Every day an adult would share a story about something wonderful the kids said or did. Every day. It was like we were reminded once again of something we have always known: that kids are amazing and they bring us closer to God. And every day, through unbridled generosity, our Youth taught us that the Kingdom of God is filled with creative brilliance and laughter. And every day, the kids showed us what the Kingdom of God looks like through their questioning eyes, their warm hugs and their way of being. Every single day, the Kingdom of God was so very close.
I suppose we should not be surprised, really, that the Kingdom of God would be so evident when we spend a week simply loving God and loving each other. The Kingdom closely surrounds us each and every minute, waiting for us to participate in the goodness of God. I suppose after all these years, I should not be surprised when the run-away freight train of VBS takes off on a Monday morning and knocks me to my knees over and over again through precious moments of heavenly goodness. The Bible tells us that the Kingdom of God is near (Mark 1:15). However, I have to admit, sometimes those moments surprise me and take my breath. Sometimes, words are just not enough to describe the fullness of a moment. Sometimes, pictures have to help us see. The Kingdom of God is like . . . Vacation Bible School at Kessler Park United Methodist Church. Thanks be to God!