…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

…Scenes By the Wayside, Tales of the Sea

By Eric Chaffey


As part of my work as a music director for a Lutheran church, this last week I’ve had a unique opportunity that scared me but which I ultimately found rewarding. Vacation Bible School.Vacation Bible School is an interesting thing and it has changed over the years. Years ago as a young child I went with my school friends to one that was co-sponsered by a local Methodist and Lutheran church in a small town. Pre-school through second grade went to the Lutheran church, and 3rd through 6th grade went to the Methodist church. We met in the chapel first thing and sang a couple of traditional hymns and made our way to our respective classes. It didn’t seem to matter to them that I was LDS. We all had a good time together singing songs, hearing bible stories, creating crafts, playing games etc.

This time around, it was a little different. Instead of an older lady accompanying well known hymns on the piano it was myself an electric guitar, and an electric bass accompanying a few familiar songs but mostly new songs written for this particular VBS (vacation bible school) season, using the theme of “God’s Great Gallery.” For each day there was a special color, a little dialogue between a pastor and a mouse (okay, a mouse puppet) and a special “Wow” phrase that the kids were supposed to respond with at specific times, such as “Wow! God cares for everyone! Wow! What a God!” There were also these new songs that went along with the theme. Even the snacks followed the theme, stories and surprisingly the color. For the record, I am not a fan of blue jello. The kids for the most part really loved it, but in my mindset food should never be that color. I’ve definitely been pushed out of my comfort zone with playing for VBS. I never thought I would play keyboard as part of a three piece rock band. But in spite of being pushed out there, overall the experience has been a good one.

Among other things that are still the same are the stories from the bible. Specifically the stories about Christ’s love and mercy, his atonement and resurrection. This is also universal with some of what I learned in Primary many years ago. All of it reinforces to me the testimony that I have of our beloved Savior and Redeemer. Even as the boat was tossed in a tempest on Galilee, Our Lord calmed the storm on that night. So he calms the storms in our lives with his love and grace.

One of my favorite hymns that I learned in primary and is still a great favorite of mine is called “Stories of Jesus.” It’s been running through my head as I’ve been thinking about this week in Vacation Bible School and it’s one that I wrote a hymn prelude for organ. Here is the text and I hope you enjoy the attached sound file as well.

Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear,
Things I would ask him to tell me, if he were here.
Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,
Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

First let me hear how the children, stood round his knee,
And I shall fancy his blessing, resting on me.
Words full of kindness, deeds full of grace,
All in the love light, of Jesus’ face.

Tell me in accents of wonder, how rolled the sea,
Tossing the boat in a tempest, on Galilee.
And how the Master, ready and kind,
Chided the billows, and hushed the wind. Stories of Jesus

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