STATE COLLEGE, PA — Today the students gathered for the last day of the Holy Trinity Vacation Bible School (VBS) and while there was a bit of sadness in knowing they would not see their friends every evening there was a general conviction among the attendees that their outlook on Christmas will be forever different.
VBS was capped the week with the study that God became man and lived among us–that is the incarnation of God in Christ. The students were asked to consider their personal efforts of prayer, service, and help to others as gifts that they can offer to the incarnate Lord during the season of His Nativity that we celebrate. For perspective, in a poll taken on the first day of VBS, only one of the things above was mentioned (and only by one person) when asked what they usually do to prepare for Christmas.
The instructional session concluded with the reading of the Nativity gospel and students were ask to listen to the story in light of their new understanding of the Nativity season.
Although the Church has always celebrated the birth of its Savior, the specific and separate celebration on December 25 dates only from the fourth century. Before this the Church celebrated the birth of Christ along with three other events on January 6th–the Wedding Feast at Cana, the visit of the Magi, and the Baptism of Jesus–as “appearances” or epiphanies of God on earth.
The separation of the Nativity feast from other commemorations and its celebration on December 25 first occurred in Rome sometime around 354 AD. This day (12/25) was probably selected because it was the date of the pagan celebration of Sol Invictus, the invisible sun god. From the celebration spread to the Churches in the east (Constantinople and Cappadocia) then to Antioch and finally Palestine.
Throughout the week, students learned and studied many terms. Some of the terms parents can discuss with their children are below.
- Incarnation — in when used before other words, means into or becoming, carn means flesh, ation means something that takes place
- Prophet — a person who speaks for God, or tells God’s people what He wants them to do
- Nativity — birth
- Patron saint — a patron saint is one who prays in heaven for and watches over a group of people. The people might be those in a certain country, or people who do a certain type of work, or people who are in a certain situation
- Advent — another name for the Nativity Fast, the period of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity or Birth of Jesus Christ
- Ancestors — our family members who came before us; grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.
FPO – For Parents Only
This year’s staff was terrific–the meals were delicious and fun, the instruction was top notch, the music infectious, and the craft was a wonderful and obvious reminder of the theme for the week. Please take a moment to thank the staff today or when you see them next. (Also, many thanks to our “junior” staff – it was great having them participate in their new leadership roles.)