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VBS Daily News: Peace (and Joy) in the Valley

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STATE COLLEGE, PADuring the second day of the 2011 HTOC Vacation Bible School there was brief discussion of the possibility of chaining the nickname of the local area to Joyful Valley but this was tabled for future consideration.

In other news, students today focused on the spiritual fruits of joy and peace. Students learned that joy is more than being happy but rather it comes from us living in the way God wants and being glad no matter what is happening in our lives. To live in the joy of the Lord we are told not to worry about tomorrow for God will take care of us. “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor spin.”

Students also found that peace is being free from worry and fear and getting along with people around you. Peace is mental and emotional calmness in the midst of problems and that peace is love’s security.

Joy — It’s Much More Than Being Happy

In our culture there is plenty of happiness and merriment (just go downtown on a football weekend). Also, think about some of our most cherished greetings, “Happy Birthday!”, “Happy Anniversary”, and of course, “Merry Christmas!” But when we greet each other with these words do we really express upon them a sense of His deep joy — that desire that only comes from knowing and understanding from whom the Joy truly springs forth?

Happiness is oftentimes relatively easy to come by (for kids, this may be a new toy or a day at the amusement park) but it is fleeting. Real joy is sometime that takes happiness to a whole new level — it’s like a thousand birthdays at once. Joy brings a sense which encompasses the depth of the soul that warms like nothing else. Find His joy and get warm! (BTW — most kids have found it — ask them their secret.)

Peace Out

The peace that Christ has left to us has been conveyed through the centuries from the first announcement to the apostles during the Mystical Supper (John 14:27): “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you, not as the world gives, give I to you. Do not let your heart be troubled and be not afraid.” To find that peace is to give up the search for the imperfect peace that the world gives. Oh, how we search for it everywhere, from so many people in various situations. Yet we find that even the best of humans ultimately will let us down. Each time we hear the celebrant during the sacred services utter the word, “Peace be with you,” we hear the promise of the Master in the voice of the priest. Only His peace and presence offers abiding comfort. Only the Holy Spirit quells the confusion of our thoughts and raises us to an awareness of bliss in God.)

— Rev. V. Berzonsky

FPO — For Parents Only

VBS is a great time for your kids — but it is even a better time to talk with your children about the important thins which they have learned. It’s your responsibility to reinforce these daily lessons (Hint: Read your VBS Daily News.)



VBS Daily News: Summer Learning Season Begins

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“I’ve Got the Fruit of the Spirit in Me” Theme Set for 2011 VBS

STATE COLLEGE, PA — It just wouldn’t be summer in Happy Valley without the annual HTOC Vacation Bible School (VBS) and today participants enjoyed an exciting first day. As the Orthodox Church is in the joyous Pentecost post-feast period, the theme this year is “I’ve Got the Fruit of the Spirit in Me!”. The theme centers on Galatians 5:16-26 and these gifts are being studied to encourage the spiritual growth in the students. They will make connections between the Bible stories and “real” life and although the VBS offers serious study about God there will also be plenty of fun.

Some goals for the week include:

  • Understand who is the Holy Spirit;
  • Identify each of the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, etc.);
  • Learn that the fruits are outward signs of an inward change in one’s life;
  • Encouraging participants to understand that they should do their best to work with the Holy Spirit to get the this fruit into their personality;
  • Have the students discuss and understand Bible passages where the attributes of each fruit are revealed and how to apply them to their life.

What is the Fruit of the Spirit?

Today the VBS students got their first taste of spiritual fruit with the stuffy of the fruit of love. St. Paul says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Notice that St. Paul uses the singular “fruit” instead of a plural “fruits.” This indicates that these “fruit” comprise a singular cluster of characher “in Christ,” and not to be considered independent of one another. What a nice bunch of fruit we should all strive to become!

Who Do You Love?

The neat thing about God’s love is that it’s not a feeling to Him, He can’t fall out of love with us. He loves us even when we’re not “lovable” and when we’re grumpy or doing bad things. He loves all of us no matter what.

Now, the real tricky part is loving others like God loves us. There is a special kind of love we can have for others, it’s called agape love. Pretend for a day that you have special glasses on and that everyone you see you love just because God loves them, like the way you love a mom or dad, brother or sister.

You may run into somebody you don’t think deserves your love or you just don’t want to love at all, but God loves them and if we love God we are supposed to live them too. Who exactly are we supposed to love?

  • Love God
  • Love yourself
  • Love your family
  • Love your friends
  • Love your neighbors
  • Love your enemies

FPO — For Parents Only

Parents please be prompt when dropping off and picking up your children day. If we are not at the church for dismissal, please come to Holmes-Foster Park. Also, don’t forget your children must signed-in/signed-out each day.

Vacation Bible School: Got Fruit?

Theme: “I’ve Got the Fruit of the Spirit in Me!”
Dates/Times: June 13-17, 2011 — 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.*
Location: Holy Trinity Orthodox Church — 119 S. Sparks St., State College, PA
* Monday’s VBS begins immediately after the 8 a.m. Holy Spirit Day Divine Liturgy.
(Registration closed)

Relationship building, teamwork, and fun are hallmarks of Holy Trinity's annual Vacation Bible School.

This month our Sunday School will host its annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) and Afterfeast of Pentecost (Trinity Week) our theme this year is “I’ve Got the Fruit of the Spirit in Me.” The instruction will focus on the fruits of the Spirit as described by St. Paul in his epistle to the Galatians (5:22-23). Although VBS is for children, it also is a time of learning and sharing for parents (yes, parents, there may be homework for you.)

Throughout the Bible, there are references to many types of trees such as almond, apple, cedar, chestnut, fig, olive, palm, pine, and willow. In his letter, Paul presents the Spirit in the symbolism of a fruit tree. He does this so with the psalmist in mind where it is said that man is like a tree (Psalm 1) and also Jesus’ statement that men are like good trees and bad trees (Matt. 7:16-20). The illustration is used to help us understand the nature and function of the Holy Spirit.

Children of all ages will join together this June to learn about the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

In today’s world, we sometimes for purposes of décor place artificial plants, greens, etc., here and there for the best total effect. In the same way, when we survey our spiritual houses and discover something is lacking, we go out and fill the gaps by putting out our “artificial” trees, becoming which we are not or should not be. We do this hoping to improve our appearance and gratify our own longing to look better.

In other words, we try to substitute our own dry arrangements for the living fruit tree of the Holy Spirit! However, we do not have to play such a game of make-believe. When the tree of the Spirit thrives within us, we can point to both the tree and its fruit and say, “this is the real thing.”

The fruits that Paul speaks of are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentle-ness, and self-control. These are lovely and such fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit but trees can and do die. This is not to suggest that the life of the eternal Spirit is in danger. It is to remind us that the tree of the Spirit has enemies. So far as we are concerned, the diseases are jealousy, lack of forgiveness, indifference, worldliness, and a score of other sins which can make their attack so that the result is the same: the tree is not permitted to flourish and bear fruit.

VBS is offered free of charge as a service to the State College community. All children aged 4-14 are welcome. Register now!

It is no accident that the fifth chapter of Galatians begins, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1). Thus, there is the liberating fruit of the Spirit. Love begets freedom from hate. Joy brings freedom from gloom. Peace displaces conflict. Goodness triumphs over evil. Faith brings freedom from confusion. Gentleness delivers from arrogance. Self-control liberates us from excesses.

From a practical perspective, in order to harvest the right fruits, there must be the right roots. Parents must make sure the right tree is planted.  And to insure spiritual health, the tree must be given daily attention and nourishment to have a ready response to the Spirit. Remember the words of our Lord: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Let us all gladly let the tree of the Holy Spirit bear fruit through us.