It was 45 years ago when I was in the social hall at First United Methodist Church in Tamaqua, Pa., attending vacation Bible school singing my favorite songs, “This Little Light of Mine” and “Down in my Heart.”
This was the church I grew up in, and it was one of my favorite times of the summer. We would march all through the social hall and cheer and chant as we sang those songs. I never knew church could be so much fun!
Every so often, I find that church on the Internet and look at the pictures of the sanctuary (I can see the pew where we used to sit), social hall and those steep steps that led to the entrance. It’s funny how the steps don’t look quite as precipitous now that I am older. I’m sure that when I am 80, they will look breathtaking.
It’s interesting how that works, isn’t it?
We recently had VBS at Richmond Hill United Methodist Church. More than 300 children attended, many from neighboring churches and some who had no church affiliation. But that didn’t matter. The spirit definitely was moving through the church and the children (not to mention the helpers) throughout the week. Both my children attended VBS when they were young and became helpers and leaders as they grew older.
So when do you become too old to help out at VBS? The answer is never.
I was fortunate enough to have the time to volunteer this summer. Many other seniors (yes, I admit I am a senior - but a kid at heart) also took time to help out as well. It was great to see so many people get involved and be engaged with this vibrant group of young followers. Yes, I had a few aches and pains after all the dancing and games, but it was worth it.
Our motto for the week was “Stand Strong.” The message was simple, yet powerful. God, Jesus, the Bible and your friends and family all help you to stand strong against anything that comes your way.
You know, as we get older it becomes more challenging to stand strong - in a physical sense that is. That’s where exercise comes in. What about exercising our faith? We also need to do that as we age, so we can “stand strong” for God throughout this life and beyond. Too often, we take the “been there, done that” attitude; let the younger folks have a turn. I’m not so sure that works for me. I know it was not the attitude of all the senior-aged people who helped out at VBS a couple weeks ago.
We are not just a physical, emotional and social human race, even though today’s society wants us either to believe that or, at best, keep our spiritual side to ourselves. If you really want to “stand strong,” you’ve got to exercise your faith as well, no matter what age you are. We live in a world that is crying out for spiritual exercising; just watch the news for five minutes and then try to tell me otherwise.
So get up and get out and exercise your spirit now. Go let your light shine, and when you do, you will have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart to stay.
DeLong is the executive director for The Suites at Station Exchange. Email Rich at Suites.StationExchange@gmail.com.