Weekly Reflection, Friday, July 8
By: Amelia McDaniel
For many of us the world seems to be spinning off its axis right now. There is strife, dishonesty, and anxiety filling the news. In order to live into our promise to God that we will love each other the way God loves us, it is certain that we as humans have a lot of work to do.
However, I am here to report to you that despite how badly we grown-ups may seem to be messing it up, the kids are alright. Last week, I spent four days with a bunch of preschool and elementary students for the return of Vacation Bible School after three years. From this group I learned that the news is good – so good.
The theme of the week was “Our Big Neighborhood” and we focused on the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s words, “imagine a world where love is the way.” The younger kids learned about places far away from Richmond – Ecuador, Ukraine, and the Philippines. The kids tasted bread made by parishioners and heard stories from each culture. All the while understanding what makes these cultures unique from us but more importantly what makes us all so similar in the eyes of God. And that we are all neighbors.
Simultaneously, the VBS On-the-Go kids, rising 4th and 5th graders, traveled around the larger neighborhood of Richmond and Goochland serving organizations that feed the hungry, assist foster children, and take care of abandoned and abused animals. They learned that we have many neighbors in need and many neighbors who step up to help.
This theme allowed for the kids to take the time to think about the needs of others and try to come up with ways to respond in love – whether it was a four-year-old on the playground helping a friend or one of our elementary kids talking about what they saw at GoochlandCares. In addition, the youth volunteers modeled patience and love with little ones who tested limits and failed to use “listening ears”.
All of this goodness would not be possible without the help of so many wonderful youth, parents, grandparents, and parishioners. Many thanks to all the adults who stepped up to make this week special for our whole community. This multigenerational group who modeled God’s love is the stuff that our children’s memories hold close about their time here.
Throughout the week, I loved listening to big ideas form and hearing them imagine how to be a good neighbor to people we know and people we don’t know. A tangible way this imagining happened was by collecting hygiene products. The children (with the help of their parents) collected a large bin of toiletries to be shared through the YMCA with new people in our neighborhood, Afghan refugees, who have arrived here this year.
During the closing Eucharist, a young VBS participant looked right up at David and for the whole group to hear said, “David, God loves everyone.” And that’s the good news I was reminded of last week.
So the next time you start to despair about the state of the world, take heart. The kids are alright, better than alright. Because they are imagining a world where love is the way in our great big neighborhood.