Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20 NRSV
According to the evangelist Matthew, the words printed above are the Risen Jesus’ parting words to His disciples before He ascends to heaven. These words are better known as the Great Commission and close his gospel.
Over the years I have heard this text preached and taught many times. I somehow associate this text not with the venue of the sanctuary or the classroom on Sunday mornings. Instead, when I read and reflect on those words, I am transported back to my childhood and I associate them with Vacation Bible School.
As many of you know, I was nurtured in the Baptist church and at the time when I attended Vacation Bible School it was a two week event. Whenever I relate that story to others, they reel wondering as to how you would plan and carry through a ten day course. It was a different time and more women were full time homemakers, enabling them to participate in the program held between 8:30 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday in the summertime. I was a student and I loved it! As one who teaches now, I am just as glad we only do five days and I can imagine that our teachers from years ago would be thrilled to have our schedule.
We did have so much fun at Vacation Bible School that we invited our friends to come and join us at church for those two weeks. The program was filled with an assembly time, Bible lesson, music, activity pages, crafts, recreation and of course, snacks … red Kool-Aid and those thin daisy shaped cookies. Like our Vacation Bible Schools, the number of those attending increased as we shared with our friends what we were doing and invited them to join us. I also remember that at the end of VBS some would make their profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Yes, Vacation Bible School was a place and time of making disciples and of teaching us to obey everything that Jesus commanded us. It was the Great Commission in action! I believe this discipling process continues today through VBS and I hope our young ones will also have fond memories of that special time in their lives as I do.
Lord, we thank You for giving us the Great Commission and we ask Your continued blessings upon us as we make disciples for You through days of Vacation Bible School. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.