Jul 6, 2018

A week of prayer and praise

Opening devotion.
On July 1, Canada celebrates the day when the country became a self-governing “dominion” within the British Empire. On July 4, of course, the United States of America celebrates its Declaration of Independence from British rule. Venezuela celebrates a similar declaration of independence from Spain on July 5. Tucked in between these national holidays is July 2, when, according to the historic, one-year lectionary, the church remembers the Visitation of the Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, after the conception of Jesus.

Diana Carolina Torres Ortega
Adriana Alejandra Zambrano CarreraAll of this factored into our plans for the first week in July as we closed our school year with a farewell for the summer party for the preschool children and vacation Bible school for the older children that Luz Maria tutors in the afternoon.

Four children will leave our preschool to begin first grade next school year (which begins in September):

  • Diana Carolina Torres Ortega;
  • Cristian Alexander Dugarte Laguna;
  • Josneybert Alexander Ramirez Chac√≥n;
  • Adriana Alejandra Zambrano Carrera.

We already have said goodbye to a fifth child who would have graduated, but whose parents took her with them as they moved to the neighboring state of Apure:

  • Eliannay Gabriela Farfan Castellano.

This year marks the 15th year since we started the preschool and Luz Maria has provided afterschool tutoring almost as long. Most of those who have been baptized and received first communion in our mission have done so because of their exposure to Christian education in the preschool and afterschool classes. There are families who attend other churches, but nevertheless support our educational endeavors, because there are so few other schools that pay attention to spiritual as well as intellectual, emotional and social formation. Also, as we have witnessed over the years, much of this is not due to our efforts, but to the work of the Holy Spirit in Word and sacrament.

The theme for our vacation Bible school was “Heroes of Faith”, with emphasis on Abraham; Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; Daniel; and Hannah, the mother of Samuel the prophet. For our opening devotion on July 4, I read from Daniel 9:1-19, a long prayer in which Daniel confesses his own sins and those of his people, interceding for his nation and asking for God’s mercy and blessing. The stories of Daniel in the lion’s den, and the three cast into the fiery furnace, were especially appropriate as they were living in exile. Many Venezuelans have left their homeland, for somewhat but not entirely self-imposed exile due to political and economic conditions here. But faith in God’s promises sustained them and God rescued them even in the face of certain death. Likewise, it is good for Christians of all nations to remember, especially on national holidays, that God does not bless nations with peace and prosperity on their own merits, but out of His mercy. And nations that depart from His law, even the nation He chose to the people among whom the Savior was to be born, will be chastised.

Vacation Bible school.
On Thursday, July 5, I opened the vacation Bible school by reading the Song of Hannah from 1 Samuel 2:1-10. This is a poetic expression of praise to the Lord from a barren woman given a son to be dedicated to the Lord’s service. It prefigures the Song of Mary (the Magnificat) in Luke1:46-55, which Mary sang after her cousin, Elizabeth, said to her, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of the womb”, and that the child in her womb (John the Baptist) jumped for joy at the approach of the Child that Mary bore. This is an important proof-text for the Biblical teaching that human life begins at conception, something on everyone’s minds as the success of pro-abortion activists in Ireland and Argentina have prompted renewed efforts to clear the way for legalized abortion in Venezuela.