On the opening day of Bible School every year Reverend Menno Prediger would throw out the first pitch by standing up in front of all the kids and teachers and reading a passage from Scripture. It was always the same passage. “Ah yes,” he’d say, wiping the sweat off his tiny dome with his big white hanky and tipping his head back so he could see his Bible through his wire-framed glasses. “Ah yes, the words of Our Lord, found in Mark 10:14b. If you’ll turn with me to that verse, Mark 10:14b, which says . . . wait a moment . . . just one moment, please . . . ah yes, I believe I have it . . . yes, here it is, the words of Our Lord: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.’Ah yes.The kingdom of God.”
Then he’d go on to treat us to a sermon on the meaning of this verse. The point of the sermon was that children are naturally religious, in an innocent kind of way. Anyway, something like that. To tell the truth I was never exactly sure what his point was. My first year I was busy studying the hair growing out of his ears and later on I picked up the habit of watching my pal Gary Albrecht doing things like working a thumbtack into position on pious little Margaret Siebert’s chair.
Reverend Prediger would wind up his sermon with another Scripture passage called the Parable of the Sower, which is about the farmer who went around planting seeds all over creation, even on the rocks and weeds. I happened to pay attention to this part because it made me think of Uncle Herb. But it made Reverend Prediger think we naturally religious children were the good soil the seeds happened to fall on, which was the reason the teachers had to cultivate us.
All these Scriptures and sermons were supposed to explain why the Inverness Mennonite Church was ruining the first three weeks of our summer vacation by spending every morning in Daily Vacation Bible School.The one hour per week we spent in Sunday School wasn’t enough. It only gave us the general idea but as Aunt Lena explained, DVBS gave us the real scoop on subjects like the Bible and God and Jesus and turning the other cheek.