Like Elvis on the Altar by child grower Annita Woz

godchildconnorfeetinwater“No wonder the hills and the groves were God’s first temples, and the more they were cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord.” -John Muir Nature’s Temple

My children are in vacation bible school this week in a small program that requires the dedicated time of parent volunteers and church members to show these kids a great time for very small fee. I set aside my grown up notions that this is brainwashing at it earliest age and remember that it is not about me anymore, but about giving my kids the exposure to what they need to know so they can make their own choices about churches and where God lives inside of them.

For some families this is a reconnection to their church life, a little opportunity in the summer, a little time available to come back to the church routine, a time when they make time for inspiration. 

 For some families, VBS  is glorified childcare, really it is in the best sense of the word,  and to some it is a reprieve from the fears they have after thinking about what to do with their children for what they are quickly seeing is the beginning of a very long summer, a time when mortal parents are struggling for a reconnection to their children from the harsh schedules of a school year, work demands and all the extra curriculars.

For mine, VBS  is another opportunity catch up with friends, to make new friends, to see what the inside of these holy buildings has to offer.  

After just one day, just one, mine came home singing the songs of the guitar playing pastor who clearly has fashioned his love of music into a way to inspire worship. He dances, strums, struts and sings wildly and the kids do the same.  Not all VBS programs are like this, but this one is very musical, very rock and roll.

My youngest gets it. 

He wants to take his electronic guitar that plays introductions to Led Zeppelin songs to bible school today.  I imagine him on the altar, in an Elvis-like pose, one foot forward, his hand on the neck of the guitar and his other ready to strike the strings.  I can just see his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth, his concentration on keeping up to the moment that gives him the power to jam between the candlesticks placed on either end.

This pastor takes the verses of the bible literally where they apply the best. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, ” and “Sing a new song unto the Lord” are being put to the reality test this week.   The liberty he takes with these passages is impressive, the volume of the music as close as he’ll get to Metallica and his audience of lambs follow his lead and his beat – and they like it. 

Like any concert audience, they are let down for a bit when the music is over, when the microphones are dismantled, when the mommies stream in to collect each little listener.   Their feet want to feel the beat a little longer,  their hands come together in a deflated clap and then fall silent to their sides, the toes of their tennis shoes connect with the floor, but the sound is just a muffled tap on the carpeted chapel floor.

Then through the ride home, snippets of the songs escape their little faces, they cannot recreate the show alone, but they create their own small congregation inside the moving vehicle.  Ones sings part of a line, and another, recognizing the search for the right words supplies the missing ending and for a minute the car load of friends add the chorus and the brother throws in the “Thank you tri-state area!” a passage from cartoon where a band called Love Handle reunites for a concert. 

They are living the music, it isn’t confined to the hymmnal, it isn’t quieted when they walk out of the stained glass concert hall, created for worship, reflection, rocking out.   The energy of the moment leaves in song and is spread throughout the whole day.

The kids teach their neighbor friends the little ditties. For  a moment, the nextdoor children hear these “God songs” out of context and wonder for a moment whether mine know what they are singing about, wonder if they are being preached at, perhaps called to be witnesses to the work of fort building and water fights that will come later.  

But no one can help themselves.  They burst into song at any time, whenever moved by a line or a rhythm that is stuck in their heads, it comes out of their mouths like new butterflies stretching in the summer sun, slowly unfolds, soaks up the summer air, cautiously bends and stretches, and then launches itself into the wind, and leaves a whisper of a message of simplicity behind.

### June 15, 2009, by child grower Annita Woz.

2 Responses

  1. I love the way the music stays with them after everything is said and done.

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