Where Have you Gone Joe DiMaggio?

So Simon and Garfunkel lamented in their 1968 song.  Having read the biography of the Yankee Clipper, Mickey Mantel, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial, history can have all of them save for Stan the Man.  My lament is for the deaconess who wrote a VBS curriculum on the first century church in 2000 and the Reformation era in 2001.  Where have you gone whatever your name is?

She was a deaconess connected to Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne somehow.  I read that she was going to Concordia Publishing House, and I called her up to lament her passing.  Her material was so Lutheran, not cheesy; it wasn’t the standard Vacation Bible School tactic of making worship the polar opposite of what a liturgical church does on Sunday.  I was afraid she was going over to the dark side and said so. (Okay, I didn’t say “dark side;” I said, “I think they’re buying you out.”)  She said no she was going to do for CPH Vacation Bible School what she had done in her material.

For years now I have watched to see the influence of this unnamed heroine of confessional Lutheranism in CPH VBS material.  I thought I saw some, some years ago.  You be the judge for 2015.

It’s “VBS with Purpose!” For 17 years I had VBS and I always thought it had purpose and it was the same purpose, but you know “purpose” has been repurposed thanks to Rick Warren. Now it’s a buzz word and never let it be said that Concordia Publishing would miss catching a buzz.

The theme is “Jesus at Work Through Us.” Jesus is the first word in each of the five themes, and this is an improvement over past efforts.  However, you don’t get to “Jesus Saves Me” until Day 3.  You go through “Jesus Gives Me Courage” and “Jesus Gives Me His Wisdom” first.  Granted courage and wisdom are styled as Jesus’ gifts, but we’re still talking sanctification before justification. Pshaw! Bother them not with antiquated works like Law and Gospel.

If the following paragraph summarizing what CPH wants to do for your VBS does not drip of evangelicalism and emerging church buzz words then Jesus doesn’t love Mrs. Robinson and everybody else more than we know.  “At Camp Discovery, kids learn that Jesus is our true north. (Have you noticed that now that virtually all college campuses have gotten rid of directions in their names the contemporary, emerging church is putting them in theirs? As usual, the church that mimics the world is always decades behind.) He provides the courage, wisdom, and love we need to discover God’s plan and purpose for our lives, right now, right where we are.”  You see, their Baptist’s friends have been right all along. God does have a plan for their lives. It’s up to them to discover it, and it’s sure not found in the Font, Pulpit, or Altar.

“Laugh about it, shout about it / When you’ve got to choose / Ev’ry way you look at it, you lose” when they’re coming to you with “High-energy Music,” and “science fun activities.” (I dare you to go to the website and listen to the music.)

So where have you gone noble deaconess? A Synod turns its hungry eyes to you. Give us something more than drivel. Give us something other than what our kids could get at any other denomination in town. Give us something that doesn’t inoculate them with contemporary worship.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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