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God’s Love is Always With Us: Day Three of VBS in Martin, Slovakia

July 13, 2017

So I sprained my ankle. Pretty badly. Forgetting that I’m too old to be awesome, I tried to be awesome while kicking around a soccer ball with our youth. I failed badly. So it goes.

Nevertheless, day three of Vacation Bible School was fantastic. Our focus for the day was God’s continual, abiding presence with us. Through our baptism into Christ, God has been poured into our lives. One wonderful illustration of this was the obstacle course set up during games. In a trust exercise, the children had to navigate a series of obstacles while blindfolded. Although they couldn’t see, they were not alone. A partner helped them through. It was interesting to watch the different approaches. Some were guided by the voice of a friend, while others were physically accompanied by partners who were holding their hands or guiding their shoulders through the course.

Sometimes we hear God’s voice; sometimes we feel the divine hands guiding us through the obstacles of this life. Either way, we are never left alone, for God delights in providing for us and demonstrating love for us.

We were able to get a sense of this during our trip to the Lutheran church in Istebné, a congregation that had been served by Bohdan’s grandfather and great-grandfather. Bohdan spoke of the history and heritage of his people, from Saints Cyril and Methodius to the coming of the Reformation; from the men who translated the Bible in secret to the builders of the church in which we sat – a church built only with wood due to the strictures placed upon the Lutherans by the Catholics; from two world wars through communism to today. And through it all, God provided.

We heard of a story different than our own, a story in which being Christian has consequences. Far from creating hardship, the faith of the people created opportunities for God to show God’s love and care. When the prayer for daily bread is truly a prayer that there will be bread that day, faith tends to be a serious matter. Time and time again, God would show up.

We were shown the plain, common, wooden cup that served as this church’s chalice for 200 years. Compared to the gold and silver of other congregations, this cup was a bit of an embarrassment. Still, better to have wooden cups and golden hearts than to have golden cups and wooden hearts. It is what’s inside the cup that matters. When it is the blood of Christ that fills the cup, the cup becomes the most worthy vessel in the world (cue memories of Indiana Jones). And from the cup into our lives comes the presence of Jesus Christ, through whom nothing can separate us from the love of God.

After Bohdan spoke, we celebrated the feast of Holy Communion. I limped forward and had Christ place in my hands once more. A bad ankle wasn’t going to separate me from God’s love.

Bohdan spoke passionately about the window of opportunity in which we live. He was not the first to catch a vision for bringing theological education to the people of Slovakia. His forebears, however, were prevented by world wars and communism and the more pressing need of daily bread. But now there is a window of opportunity; who knows how long it will remain open? As long as it does, is it not incumbent upon us to make the most of it, in honor of those who came before us and to the glory of God?

God is with us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. What window of opportunity is God inviting us to make the most of today?

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

From → Slovakia 2017

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