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Let's Start the Party

Written by Allie Fadden

The week of VBS is always one of my favorites. As VBS approached this year, I began to ponder why. Though I grew up in the church, I really only have one memory of attending VBS as a child. I certainly don’t remember the lessons, crafts, or activities, but I do remember my VBS leader showing me I was seen, safe, and loved. The impact of that still resonates today, and I think this is why I value VBS. It is about connection, the daily repetition building layer upon layer of knowing: “You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.” 

This year, VBS was extra special as our whole family was able to participate, some of us the ones being loved, some of us the ones doing the loving. Each evening after VBS we would gather at our kitchen table to recount the night's highlights. The spontaneous reenactment of songs and dance moves filled our kitchen with giggles, and the sweet recounting of special moments made my heart full. Some of us loved gathering for dinner beforehand, some loved time with friends. We marveled at blobfish facts (yes, you read that right!) and voted on whether Pastor Peter or Pastor Ben was the better rapper. We talked about leaders who made us feel special, and the kids with whom we built new connections. In all of this, the bottom line is the same: There is so much joy to be found in loving and being loved by Jesus.

Our theme for VBS was “Start the Party.” In his book One at a Time, Kyle Idleman proposes that the Bible has a clear and consistent “Party Theology.” He notes the Old Testament festivals meant to commemorate or anticipate God’s goodness, and points to Jesus’ frequent attendance at gatherings, meals, and banquets–so much so, in fact, that the Pharisees accused him of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). On VBS day one, we learned about Matthew the tax collector, who was despised by many for his deceitfulness. Jesus approached him, invited him to follow, and his life was changed. Matthew was so full of joy in knowing Jesus that he couldn’t keep it to himself, so what did he do? He threw a party! He invited his friend to a banquet with Jesus so that they could meet Him, too. As we learned at VBS, Jesus is a good reason to celebrate, and we are all invited to the party. 

Our family has taken this theme and put it into practice. Every Thursday evening, we have a standing invitation to our neighborhood to join us on our deck for Neighbor Nights. We gather, we build connection, we show love. Our prayer is that little by little, with repetition, our neighbors will learn they are loved not just by us, but by the One who is Love. So let’s start the party!

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