How does an Anabaptist publisher like MennoMedia go about offering the best in faith formation to children at the earliest ages?
It begins with focusing on an idea like Christian hospitality. How do we convey that concept to young children?
I learned a lot about hospitality the day I met Tina. Tina lived in a squatter community along the beach in the Philippines. My friend Mary took me to Tina’s house, which was a piece of blue tarp stretched between two small wooden houses. Underneath the tarp, Tina had created her home. A wooden bench served as both her table and seating area, and when a mat was rolled on top of it the bench became a bed.
We had a pleasant visit but as Tina got out her lone pot and started a fire, I began to wish I had left a few minutes ago. I knew that she expected me to stay for a meal. I wondered if I should offer to go to the corner store and buy a chicken and some fruit. In the end, I didn’t say anything and instead enjoyed the meal of shells that Sarah had picked up along the beach. When I returned to the community the next day, everyone knew that I had eaten lunch with Tina. Tina was honored to share with me and spoke as if it was the highlight of her week.
Tina taught me a lot about hospitality. Sometimes it’s important to give hospitality and other times, to receive.
Welcome! Give and Receive God’s Great Love is the new MennoMedia vacation Bible school material for 2014. It features five Bible stories that focus on hospitality—sometimes giving hospitality and other times receiving it. From Abraham and Sarah, who invited three strangers into their home for a meal, to the people on the island of Malta who helped Luke and Paul when they were shipwrecked, the stories illustrate how we can also reflect God’s love by showing hospitality.
The curriculum was written by a group of educators in Goshen, Indiana. We meet for two days to read Bible stories and reflect on them. What did we like about the stories? What troubled us? What would be difficult to explain to children? How does our faith grow through these stories? As we interacted with the Scriptures, we talked about how children form faith and how to engage them in the biblical texts.
Following the meeting, the writers got to work and developed a VBS program that will make both children and adults excited to learn about hospitality and the welcome we receive through God’s love.
What is your favorite story of welcome or hospitality?
Check out the MennoMedia website to receive a 20% discount on VBS 2014 until November 30, 2013. Go to http://www.faithandliferesources.org/Curriculum/vbs/
—Mary Ann Weber
Editor for curriculum