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Going for the Gold

August 6, 2012

It was a fun day at Franklin Federated Church today, in part because of what we stole from The First Congregational Church of Bridgton, Maine. I visit this church once a year when on vacation in Maine, and it’s usually the Sunday after their Vacation Bible School program has just finished. They leave the whole sanctuary decorated, and when you come in they sing songs from the VBS week and celebrate with a special reception afterward in their fellowship hall/dining room area. It’s always been fun, and my only complaint is that the pastor is often on vacation at the same time I am (I love checking out other preachers when I’m out and about, no matter the style or subject–I always learn something). 

It’s a great system, and the last time I left wondering, hey, why don’t we do that? The answer, as usual is deucedly simple. We don’t do it…because I haven’t said we should. 

Which makes it sound like when I say jump, the congregation asks how high. Not true. But what is true is that we have lots of good ideas, like many congregations do, and we sometimes forget to share them with each other. We see something done, and we think: oh, that’s interesting, or oh, that’s nice. The thought of doing it ourselves may never even enter our heads. A shame, since other folks have already invented the wheel several times over. 

It’s also possible that some folks think, “Well, we do it a different way, and that’s just the way it is.” Which is funny, because I think a lot of what we do is done because we’ve been doing it that way for long enough that it enters institutional memory and becomes a standard operating procedure. And we stick with it, faithfully, because churches are great at upholding traditions. 

So this year, we are claiming someone else’s tradition, or at least taking one and making it our own. We kept the stuff from VBS up, stuff that Julia and Chris and Tim and others had all worked so hard to put in place. In worship, we were able to look at the promises God has made–we used the “Adventures on Promise Island” curriculum this year–as they were presented in posters and beach towels and other mediums around the sanctuary. They also got to hear our theme song for the week, which I took some time to learn on guitar, and then just invited everyone who was willing (kids, volunteers, everybody) to come up and sing–no rehearsals! Well, we sang it every day at VBS, so we all knew it. 

It was wonderful. Our scripture for today was actually John 6:25-34, which is poignant in light of what happened with adapting the new celebration practice. Jesus chastises the crowd for coming to listen to him because they got a free meal, and he encourages them to seek after the bread of heaven. I think sometimes we get so stuck with trying to preserve Our Way of Church that we might limit the in-breaking power of Jesus Christ in our lives and our work together. Tragic case of cart before the horse. So thanks, FCC of Bridgton! Great stuff, and it feels great to be back in the VBS game. Twenty kids left us with new songs, new resources, and a new sense of God’s love in their lives. 

Gold medals all around. 


From → faith

One Comment
  1. great work, let God love you,

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