So my 9-year-old daughter and I were sitting on the couch channel surfing the other night with my wife in the room.
That's when this commercial for Amazon Prime came on...
It was only 30 seconds in when my daughter Amelia turns to my wife and says...
"Hey, look, Mommy! That sounds like a VBS song, doesn't it?"
The fact that my 9-year-old daughter thought an Amazon commercial sounded like Vacation Bible School (VBS) bothers me. I mean, shouldn't VBS look and sound like church?
That's the point though -- most VBS programs today do sound like church because most church services are "Contemporary Worship (CoWo)" services designed to entertain instead of edify like God always intended Christ's Church to do by delivering His gifts to His people.
In short, it's generally more style than substance.
It was difficult for my dear wife to disagree. She's volunteered and served as the VBS Coordinator for the past few years, but this is the first year she's decided to take a break. She still plans to participate and help out here and there, but her frustration with being responsible for organizing and running the whole thing without having an influence over the kind of curriculum and program that's taught has a tendency to do that to ya.
It's taken some time, but I think she's really starting to understand why I have had concerns in years past with the kinds of things she was asked to teach the kids during VBS at a (supposedly) Lutheran church and school not to mention Sunday School as well.
So, this commercial and my daughter's comments came at the perfect time really. Come to think of it, the timing couldn't be better, because last night was the school's annual Spring Musical too, and really the only thing even remotely resembling anything distinctly "Lutheran" was the decision to call one of the scene settings "C.W. Worthington Park" (a vague shout-out to C.F.W. Walther perhaps? one can hope).
Sadly, however, I would be very hard-pressed to identify anything else as being even somewhat Lutheran in the whole performance.
See, the problem with VBS and Musicals (and yes, even Children's Sunday School) is that they tend to be less liturgical and less educational, and much more "garish, cartoony, moralizing, and singularly lacking in any substance" when the content should be "challenging, catechetical, and solidly anchored on the language of our Biblical, liturgical, and confessional heritage."
Why can't VBS and Sunday School (and dare I say even Christian Musicals) be more liturgical, especially if we'e talking about a Lutheran church and day school?
Now, before you respond by telling me it's because the liturgy is "boring" and that "the kids just wouldn't go along with it," might I ask you to prayerfully consider what the fine folks at Higher Things are doing as well as what Pastor Timothy Rossow wrote back in 2010...
Pastor Rossow wrote a follow-up soon after...
For some reason many in our church body have bought into the myth that using non-Lutheran liturgical resources is beneficial. People like this will object to kneeling or making the sign of the cross because doing such is too Catholic but they do not hesitate to use, and even chase after, basic Protestant resources (Methobapticostal as many like to call them) that are born out of an unacceptable theology that rejects baptismal regeneration and God’s gifts in the Holy Supper. Why would Lutherans not want to use Lutheran liturgical resources? It just does not make sense. We here at the Brothers of John the Steadfast use and promote the historic Lutheran liturgy.
What does make sense is how wonderfully the children of our VBS sang the liturgy this past week at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois. This year we changed our VBS worship by dropping the typical camp-song format and using the same Morning Prayer liturgy that our children use for our Day School chapel each week. They sang it wonderfully. Someone on an earlier comment string quoted Pastor Cwirla as saying: “Give them something to grow into, not something to grow out of.” That truism was on clear display at Bethany this week.
In my previous post I shared a few insights on how effective the liturgical approach was. Here are a couple more thoughts, this time from our closing VBS chapel service.
Please check out those "couple more thoughts" and see if it changes your perspective a bit. It changed mine for sure!
I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I'm an "old school" type of Christian.
I like attending the "Traditional Worship" service each week even though it's intentionally scheduled at the butt crack of dawn when it's sometimes impossible trying to get the whole family up and out the door on time.
I like the Divine Liturgy and learning how to sing classic Christian hymns instead of being forced to sing the latest Chris Tomlin hit single.
I like my Pastor to wear vestments and to preach from the pulpit instead of having the Youth Group deliver the "sermon" to the congregation in the form of a comedy skit.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, that commercial was an Amazon Prime example of EVERYTHING that's wrong with VBS (and CoWo).
NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!