This past week, I’ve worked at Christ the King’s 2006 Vacation Bible School. I’ve played piano for our large group times and I’ve taught the kids in a designated choir time as part of the VBS week. In many ways this was, as this entry is titled, going back to my roots. I have a degree in music education and worked as a music teacher for two years before enrolling in seminary. So, rather than being scared to death of being put in front of 4-9 year olds, I walked into the week expecting to really enjoy myself. (I actually was scared to death of being in front of 2 and 3 year olds, but that’s a story for another posting.)
From what I’ve been told, this is the first year that the VBS has incorporated anything like choir time into the curriculum. I asked for it for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to be able to spend time teaching the kids and, second, I wanted to be involved in every stage of planning how music would shape our VBS. In our large group times, I’ve assisted two very capable leaders and during choir time, I’ve been doing a one-man show. We’ve been learning and rehearsing a song that our Director found on one of the “Seeds” albums. It’s a direct setting of this week’s key verse, John 3:16 , called “Eternal Life”.
I’ve arranged “Eternal Life” to be sung Sunday morning in our worship services as a Children’s Anthem along with our musicians. (I think it’s very, very important that kids sing along with real instruments rather than pre-recorded music whenever possible.) In the middle of “Eternal Life”, the kids sing the “Amazing Love…” chorus from “And Can it Be”, which is the first hymn that the congregation will sing. Immediately after the anthem is over, the organist transitions the congregation into “And Can It Be”, which I’m going to at least introduce to the kids tomorrow morning. I’ve tried to design the service so that the kids aren’t a spectacle up front, acceptable simply because they look cute, but they sing and participate in the service just like what they are – important members of our congregation.
That’s the plan anyway. Of course, all plans are subject to changing variables, and I’m going to see about 250 little variables running around having fun tomorrow morning.
The staff here in the families with children area have done a great job taking the curriculum and rewriting it so that it is Gospel centered and focused on Jesus. It’s a shame that most children’s ministries don’t have this focus. We need to recapture Psalm 78 for our churches. Here’s just a bit of Isaac Watts’ setting.
Let children hear the mighty deeds
Which God performed of old,
Which in our younger years we saw,
And which our fathers told.
That they remember God to be
Their rock eternally,
And know that only God Most High
Can their redeemer be.
Thus shall they learn in God alone
Their hope securely stands;
That they may ne’er forget his works,
But practise his commands.