By Judy Brandon: Religion Columnist
During my childhood years, I took part in many two-week-long vacation Bible schools. Days were packed with crafts, cookies, grape Kool-Aid, games and Bible activities. Those my age remember the colored cards with scripture verses for each day. The first day’s verses started out fairly easily but by the end of the week, the scriptures were a little more difficult. When we memorized all the scriptures on the cards, we received an award. Many of those scriptures are still with me today.
Then how about perfect attendance Sunday school pins? Sunday school was a fact of every week in our family — a constant that always occupied our Sunday mornings before church. Four consecutive quarters or a year of perfect attendance and I got a perfect attendance Sunday school pin. I was so proud of that pin that I even wore it to school.
Bible drills were another big event. Competition was strong, especially among the teens, to see how fast we could locate scripture. Winning first place in the church competition was good but winning first in the association was better.
It was my participation in primary and junior choirs where I learned choruses like “Deep and Wide” and “Climb, Climb up Sunshine Mountain.” I can still make the hand movements to those songs.
Church camp always made an impression on me. Something about church services in the mountains at night under an open-air tabernacle stirred the very feelings surrounding my deepest spiritual thoughts. I was amazed as missionaries talked of their experiences and their calling.
I have memories of Girls’ Auxiliary, a girls’ mission organization to learn about missionaries around the world. Mrs. Ferguson was our teacher and I didn’t appreciate what she did for me until my adult years. When I was a child, I thought that Mrs. Ferguson probably took GA’s much too seriously because sometimes we didn’t want to be serious. But as an adult, I still remember so much she taught me and because of her dedication, I am grateful.
My church participation was strong and consistent. I happened to be there all the time since Daddy was the pastor. My church experiences are the core of my childhood and growing up years. Participation meant a great deal to me because I identified with all those involved in the church.
It is interesting to note that Judas had what many people over the centuries have wished for. Judas had the advantage of being with Jesus in the flesh day in and day out. He was an onlooker as Jesus performed miracles. He saw Jesus still the waves. He probably participated when Jesus fed the mountain crowd with five loaves and two fishes. He no doubt saw Jesus walk on the water, raise the dead, and heal the sick. Judas was an eyewitness to so much that Abraham, Moses, Jacob and David hoped for. He participated in the group with 11 others who knew Jesus. But still with all that participation, Judas never changed on the inside where it really made the difference. He participated but missed Jesus.
Participation doesn’t bring change on the inside. Change only comes when one encounters and receives Christ. I know it is true because it happened to me.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: