It’s that exciting time of year again – Vacation Bible School! In years past, I have always been active with my own children and grandchildren at VBS as the music director. In fact, I remember very clearly when my youngest daughter was about five or six, we were all singing a song called “Jesus, Prince of Peace”. Listening to her a little closer I found that she was actually singing the words: “Jesus, Prince of THIEVES”! Not the message we were hoping she would get!
As you may know, last year was my very first experience as VBS director, but I was so fortunate to have many talented and dedicated Co-Directors and volunteers to help make it a great success. Again, this year I’m delighted that so many members of the congregation have signed up to volunteer! We are SO appreciative of the snacks, decorations, monetary donations and items from our Amazon Wishlist that are coming in to help make our free VBS possible. (We still have a way to go – but every little bit helps!) Having one VBS under my belt has made me either brave or foolish, because now I want to change things up a bit!
During the week of June 6-10th, we are trying something a little different from our typical VBS themes. Jerusalem Marketplace is an immersion experience where the children will dress in tunics and sandals and feel like they have stepped back in time to the days of Jesus! Each camper will become a member of a tribe named for the original 12 tribes of Israel. The moment they set foot in The Price Fellowship Hall they will be overwhelmed with the sights, sounds and smells of a bustling marketplace complete with varied booths such as: Carpentry, Bakery, Jewelry Making, Pottery, Musical instruments, Storytelling, Weaving, Basket Making etc. Fresh bread will be baking in the ovens to be enjoyed during snack time, and water jugs will be pulled from the communal well. Across the courtyard, the BEC atrium will be transformed into a Synagogue school where the children will demonstrate their respect by donning Jewish yarlmuckes and learn to write in Hebrew on clay tablets. In the courtyard, children will play outdoor games and learn traditional circle and vine dances!
For me the most exciting part of Jerusalem Marketplace is the theme of walking with Jesus during the last week of his life on Earth. Day 1 begins with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Day 2 Jesus shares Passover with his disciples. We will learn about the Seder feast and participate in foot washing! Day 3 finds Jesus praying in the garden and is then arrested. Day 4 the Marketplace will be abuzz with the talk of Jesus being crucified, and we will have special oil lamps to remind us that “Jesus is the Light”. Day 5 will be triumphant as Jesus rises from the dead and walks among us! All throughout the marketplace, our shopkeepers will take on different roles as they talk of this stranger named Jesus. Some will be serious, others will be skeptical, and some will be curious about this newcomer shaking things up. Our fondest hope is for everyone at VBS to feel as if they are walking with Jesus though these experiences and know that He loves us and still walks with us today!