Message Received

Last week approximately 20-30 children gathered at the church every evening between Sunday and Thursday for Vacation Bible School.  A big thanks to all who helped make VBS possible this year.  It would not have happened without the willing and graceful leadership of organizers, teachers, snack preparers, game leaders, craft artisans, drama thespians, sound-system operators, parent-chauffeurs, and anyone else I have forgotten.  

The theme of the week was “Message Received: Hearing God’s Call,” and we heard a different story every night about someone in the Bible receiving a message from God.  I was glad to see the curriculum included stories about people in the Bible who might be unfamiliar to many of our young people.  I also found it interesting that the stories that were included covered a range of ways that messages could be received from God.  For instance, on the second night we learned about Esther and her call to use her position to influence the king and, subsequently, save the Jewish people.  This story stuck out to me because Esther is one of two books in the Bible that never explicitly mentions God.  (Bonus points if you can name the other.)

It’s easy to talk about receiving messages from God if we only talk about stories like Samuel or Mary (which were also covered during VBS) where literal voices or visions of angels give extremely clear messages.  While these experiences may be far removed from most of us, I believe God is still speaking into our lives.  So how do we talk about receiving messages from God when God seems to be absent or hidden beneath the surface of our experiences like in Esther’s story? 

During VBS I lead the Junior Youth, and we dug into this question by focusing our week on different ways that people receive messages from God.  We talked about hearing and experiencing God through community, through prayer, through nature, and through scripture.  My hope was that the youth would understand that just because they may not hear a literal voice or experience a miraculous epiphany does not mean that they are doing something wrong.  There are lots of ways to hear God’s call in our lives.  The only thing we might be “doing wrong” is when we stop listening and paying attention. 

How are you going to have “ears to hear” this week?