How do you get a bunch of five-year-olds to fifth graders to get the Word of God inside their hearts and their souls? How do they read the Bible in a way so that the Word becomes a part of who they are? How do you help them truly experience the sights, the smells, the tastes, the experience of being in a boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee? Well, you start with a bucket of sand, a pitcher of salt water, and a dead 14-inch trout.

It’s Vacation Bible School week here at Central and, as always, Mary and Sara and their crew are focused on interactive, hands-on, experiential learning. Greg is taking the kids through an escape room. Adam is leading the kids through different methods of prayer. Tanner and Ellie are playing soccer with the kids. Valerie Gooch, the director of Panhandle Adult Rebuilding Center, has brought Allison with her to tell our kids about serving the homeless. Benny Baraza, the fabulous principal at Bivins Elementary, is making fidget spinners with our kids. And I got to help our children learn to read the Bible using all five our senses, to truly get the text inside us.

The passage was Luke 5:1-11. Jesus teaching the crowds from Simon’s boat. Put yourself in the crowd. What are you hearing? What are the smells in the air? Is there sand in your shoes? Do you hear the constant rhythm of the waves? Jesus tells Simon to get out into the deep water and lower the nets. Put yourself in that boat. How rough are those nets on your hands? How slippery is the deck of that boat? What does a fish smell like and feel like? What do four thousand fish sound like when they’re flopping around on the bottom of the boat?

The kids were great and I had a blast. Thanks so much to Sara for locating and organizing my weird list of requested supplies. Thanks to Mary for working so hard to pull off another great VBS. And thanks to all the kids who gargled with salt water, got sand under their fingernails, suffered rope burn on their hands, got splinters from the oars, and smelled and touched that nasty fish.

And my apologies to the Sunday morning Bible class that regularly meets in Room 22. I’m afraid that smell is going to linger for a while.