“WHAT IN THE WORLD IS VBS?” This is the question I asked 26 years ago when I was a seminarian intern in a parish that offered VBS. You might think the answer is “Vacation Bible School”, but truthfully the answer is different for different people. If you are a parent the answer is: “Free babysitting the week July 16th”. If you are a kid between the ages of 5-12 the answer is “An awesome gathering with peers where you sing, eat, play games, have fun, and learn about friendship and Jesus through the scriptures.” If you are above the age of 12, the answer is “An opportunity to have fun, share your gifts, and help 5-12 year olds learn about Jesus and friendship.”
So get on board; we need you to sign up NOW! VBS is next week. This year (because we have no other space) it is being held at the Seminary. Whether you are a volunteer or a kid, fill out a registration form. You can find these in church (both at the cathedral and at St. Moses) or in the office. See you there.
THE FAITH OF JULY: This Wednesday, we celebrate our country’s birthday, but did you know that July 4 is a religious holiday? How? Let’s let John F. Kennedy explain. Long before he was our president, on July 4, 1946, 29-year-old JFK was the featured speaker at Boston’s Independence Day celebration. He spoke at Faneuil Hall (the place where the colonists gathered to protest taxes imposed by King George III and his Parliament) and began talking not about taxes, or about the British, or about the consent of the governed, but about religion. “The informing spirit of the American character has always been a deep religious sense. Throughout the years, down to the present, a devotion to fundamental religious principles has characterized American thought and action,” he said. Making a connection to July 4, he continued: “Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”
It was a theme that Kennedy would return to during his inaugural address; on January 20, 1961, in Washington, D.C., he said, “The same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
The theology of our country’s founding can easily get lost in the craziness of the politics and rhetoric of today. So amid all the fireworks and barbecues you will celebrate this July 4, consider pausing for a moment to reflect on the One our founding fathers called “the Creator.” As Kennedy realized, the American Revolution and the country we live in started with God, and with the Founders’ belief in rights that are His gift to us. Happy 4th!