Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stewardship Sunday: VBS Edition

So today was the last day of VBS, or Vacation Bible School. It's like Sunday School on steroids, with great decorations, games, new fun music, and of course Bible lessons. Growing up, my large suburban church did this during a week. We had enough stay-at-home moms and retirees to make it work. It was always a blast. For some reason, we always had shoestring potato chips and grapes for snack. I can't see a shoestring potato chip without thinking about VBS...

Anyway, my medium-sized urban church does not have many retirees, the stay-at-home moms we do have are staying home with small children, and our congregation is too spread out to make VBS work during the week. So we do it on Sundays in June. As I mentioned previously, I agreed to help out with music. Now, if you know me from childhood, you might say something along the lines of, "Joy, you're not a singer. You were in the band." And you would be right. And you would be right to suspect there was a reason I played an instrument instead of going into choir. To be fair, I did grow up in a Lutheran church, singing from a very early age. So I can carry a tune if you give me a bucket. And I grew up with a deep well of kids church music to draw from. So, in my church, if you're willing to stand up in front of a bunch of kids, jump around a bit, and try to sing some songs you grew up with, you're qualified to teach children's music.

Here I am, jumping around and waving my hands while the real musicians play music.

The kids learned the music, had a great time, and sang their hearts out to the parents this morning in front of the WHOLE congregation! All-in-all, things were a success. I had fun, I had great musicians that actually made the whole thing sound good. Let me tell you about the musicians in our congregation. Because I'm 10th string talent.

The real musicians in my congregation:

  • An internationally-acclaimed Hungarian organist who wins competitions all over the world and can make an organ sing. Listening to him, you can understand what Bach meant his music to sound like, and how music is truly one of God's gifts. He also understands that music can be a key to opening people's hearts to hear God. This is a great combination in a church musician. Oh, and he composes modern organ works.
  • A professor at Berklee College of Music who is an amazing jazz pianist. His musical skills defy description. He is humble and generous and a blessing to our church.
  • His wife, another musician with a lovely voice. Together, the two of them compose new music to teach the children. It is insanely fun to sing, and the words are straight from scripture. Yes, I said COMPOSE. They typically lead VBS music, and their songs are complex, yet the kids soak them in. Amazing. 
  • A young woman with an MFA in writing, who works in finance by day, and plays piano for theater groups by night. We went through a period of time between organists, and she played piano for our services. She also has a very lovely voice. She is truly talented.
  • A woman who also works in an office by day, but sings in and leads choral groups during evenings and on Sundays at our church. She's another example of professional-grade talent disguised as a hobbyist.
  • A woman who is blind, but can play anything she hears on the piano. I sang a verse of a new song for her, and she just started playing along with beautiful harmonies and flourishes. Songs come to life at her fingertips. Our VBS music would not have happened without her.
  • A woman from Brazil who can do the same thing on the guitar. She's not blind, but doesn't read sheet music to play. Again, I'd start singing, and she'd just pick up the tune and sing along. She has a better voice than mine, and I'm glad she agreed to do music with me. Again, VBS music would not have happened without her.
  • We have countless other spectacular voices and musicians, including a group of almost-grown siblings who were conscripted by their mother to play for a Christmas service. They just showed up with their string instruments and PLAYED. It was just as simple as that. And lovely, as I understand (I'm still sorry I missed it!)

But I had a blast singing myself hoarse, and am thankful for the chance to step up to the plate.

So our VBS and Sunday School starts with kids 2 years old. When I was first asked to help with a 2 year old class, I was a little skeptical. Can 2 year olds REALLY learn much from Sunday School? As I soon learned, OH YES THEY CAN! Of course we keep the lessons simple, with felt figures to tell the stories, and lots of singing and play. But they absorb the information, and even if they don't sing at church, they sing the songs non-stop at home. I hear this constantly from parents, both at church and from parents at the girls' preschool where I help with music. The kids love the music, and love to sing it to their parents. This is common knowledge in our education program, but we were all still pleasantly surprised to see this:

This is MeToo after VBS is over a few weeks ago. While everyone else was milling around eating cookies, she went back into the room where the Bible lessons were held, and started re-creating the story she had heard that morning with the felt "people". Now, in her version, the Disciples were all taking a nap. But she remembered the story. It's so fun to see her learning!

Ok, so I guess it's time to report in on my resource use for the week:

Food waste: I was the leafy-green executioner again this week. A container of baby kale went bad before I could use it, as did a bunch of cilantro. But the garden lettuce is helping me if I only pick what I need that day.

Money: Ouch again. Birthday gifts, things like backseat organizers for the car, Trader Joes, etc. Ouch.

Patience:  Fair. But without enough gym time, my nerves were jangling by the evening.

M&Ms:  I was given a baggie of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms (thanks Joy!). They did not make it home. I picked up some Mama's Magic Beans (Trader Joe's chocolate covered espresso beans), and have so far showed restraint. But with BestestHusband out of the country for a few days, the chances are good that they'll disappear quickly...

Time:  We did a lot of play dates and play time with friends this week. We had a blast. This negatively impacted my gym time, but we were outside and moving around. And it's the summer. We should be outside having fun instead of cleaning. I think we used our time very wisely this week. 

How was your week?

PS. Thanks Mary Reuning for the pictures! I love the action blur of my hands. I suppose that's typical in any action shot, even if I'm not singing to kids...

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