All Aboard!

This week I was forced into a technology fast when our phone, e-mail, and cable were all on the fritz for a week. Yes, a week. A week without Internet. A week without anyone being able to call (apart from the few who have my cell phone number, and thought to use it). A week without my favorite blogs.

While in some ways it couldn’t have come at a worse time (I had to lean on my fearless #2 gal, Amelia, to take care of the bajillion phone calls and e-mail messages that go with planning a week of Bible school), in some ways it was also a blessing.

This was Chris and Sarah’s last week at school, each day fuller than the next with parties and special (e.g. “parental attendance required”) events. In my spare time, I’m putting on the finishing touches on the VBS program I wrote for my parish, “S.H.I.N.E. for Jesus: Parable Power.” Each day we focus on a different parable, Gospel story, and a corporal or spiritual work of mercy.

My favorite day is Thursday, when we talk about Peter’s boat (e.g. the “Barque of Peter”) as a metaphor for the Church founded by Christ. As Peter (the Apostle, who is also host of this week’s game show “Name That Parable!”) rows his boat, we sing:

Peter, row that boat ashore, alleluia!
Peter, row that boat ashore, alleluia!

All those folks want in the boat, alleluia!
Those that know it and those that don’t … alleluia!

Then Peter dives in to an explanation of the Reformation we hope K-6th graders will understand.

Boys and girls, the Boat of Peter is the Church founded by Christ. As the first pope of the Church, I was like the captain of a ship. This great ship has guided the people of God safely to heaven for more than two thousand years.

Unfortunately, about five hundred years ago, some people in the boat decided to rock the boat! They thought something smelled fishy, and were afraid the boat wasn’t going to make it to shore … and so they jumped out!

They took pieces from the boat, fashioned a few rafts, and started paddling, along with their families. They rowed and rowed, and in time some of the people on those rafts forgot what it was like to be in that great boat of grace. They told stories about that mysterious ‘Barque of Peter,’ and turned it into a ghost ship!

But that’s not the way God wants it to be. He wants us to stay in the boat, His Church … to shine the light of truth out onto the waters, and show people the way to safety. Because God loves those people who are out there in the water, lost and confused. He wants them to be safe. He wants them to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. He wants them to be part of the Church. And he wants YOU to help them!

The next day, the kids are challenged to invite a friend along with them to the last day of Bible school (getting Mom and Dad’s okay, of course). This is the second year we’re doing “Bring a Friend Friday” … and so far the results have been terrific. At their age, they’re not worried about “pushing their beliefs” on other people (like we adults can be at times). They just want their friends to share the fun!

Me, I just get excited to see kids enthused about sharing their faith. As a convert who was once “in the raft,” I know from personal experience how meaningful these casual invitations can be in the grand scheme of things. And I want my kids to experience the joy of reveling with their brothers and sisters in faith … all together in the boat.

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