Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.
So much is beginning to “sprout” around St. James Parish lately—our garden (now supported by a new grant from the national Church’s United Thank Offering!), our New Wineskins Sunday evening worship experience, and an upcoming Sacred Arts Camp and theater production! Signs of Summer are all around us.
Many families—including my own—commonly take a summer vacation while school is out and the climate is warm. This tradition actually began in Europe, when the courts and universities took a long summer break, during which the wine harvests took place. Our own country, also begun with agrarian “roots,” still honors this idea of a long summer “vacation,” even though fewer families rely upon that time for harvesting any longer.
During my own vacation, I wondered: what do we harvest now during the summer? For me, relaxing along the Oregon coast, I found myself cultivating new energies, new ideas, and a renewed spirit with which I could begin the fall and winter seasons. Two of our young people left today for southern climes, to gain a renewed vision of what racial justice might look like.
What about “Vacation Bible School” or VBS? How do the words “vacation” and “school” fit together in that formula? The terms began in New York City in the late 1890’s, when Bible school teacher Eliza Hawes started an “Every Day” summer school especially to serve children in need. By the 1920’s, the Baptist Mission Society in New York, and Union TheologicalSeminary, began formalizing and reproducing these schools, founding the “World Association of Daily Bible Schools” in 1922.
Here at St. James, we are combining our love for the arts with our love for children, education, and outreach by offering a Sacred Arts Camp. For five days—August 15 to 19, from 9 a.m. to noon—children ages 4 to 12 will gather to learn Biblical concepts alongside children’s literature. This summer we will explore The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the well-known children’s adventure by Anglican theologian C.S. Lewis. Children and teachers together will harvest stories, songs, visual art creations, and produce from our garden in this ripe summer activity. Look for our “Justice Faire” when you come to performances of the play on August 20 and 21st, featuring our Thrift Store and its partner agencies!
Whatever and wherever your vacation plans take you, we pray that you will support some of the projects growing here at St. James, with your time, your talents and your treasure. Together may we enjoy the abundance of God’s harvest!
Yours in the Vineyard,