Transitions abound. School is one of them. To some, school days may seem a distant memory. Some are empty nesters for the first time. Young adults are off to college and/or settling into new places for
the year. Some change schools this year, moving up from preschool to kindergarten. Some enter elementary school, or move from elementary school to
middle school, or from middle school to high school. Some have transitioned to new homes and a new school system. Some will be off to school for the first
For the second year in a row, our kids are at the same school. They got their letters in the mail last week sharing with us their assigned teachers. We met with them Tuesday, and got to see their classrooms, desks, and old friends. There is both a feeling of excitement and anxiety – for child and parent alike at the start of this new school year. Maybe even for teachers too. Backpacks will soon be cleaned out and prepared while new school supplies are opened and delivered to classrooms.
At church things will be changing soon too. The boxes of curriculum stacked on counters, and the renewal of some spaces are clear evidence of that coming change. Sunday School will soon begin. As will confirmation, youth group and adult forum. bible studies will continue. Choirs will start their year, and committees will soon be back to the many tasks that keep this place fully charged and running. Worship will continue to sustain us, and we’ll switch to 10:00 to accommodate our full Sunday mornings of activities. New activities will welcome us back and draw us into another year of faithful worship, learning and service.
Even Jesus went “back to school.” I am reminded of the story of the boyhood Jesus who went with Mary and Joseph to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52). As his earthly parents headed home they could not find him among their group returning to
Nazareth, and in a panic rushed back to Jerusalem to find him. Find him they did, in the Temple, talking Scripture with the teachers who were amazed at his questions and his answers. When Mary and Joseph asked him why he didn’t come back with them causing them great anxiety, he responded with one of the best comebacks of all time, “Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
It is hard to imagine the fear of not knowing where Jesus was for Mary and Joseph, but then again – I wonder what my kids are up to most of the time. I think about them, hope they are ok, pray that they are representing our family well, and hug them when they come home – and that is when I know where they are all day! My parents probably did the same thing when I was gone. Yours probably did too. Yet kids can teach us many things too. We have a picture frame in the kitchen that says, “While we try to teach our children about life our children teach us what life is all about.” I think Jesus was doing that too: pointing Mary, Joseph, and all of us back to God’s word and into a community of faith after time away. I invite and welcome you back from your summer, and invite you to sit again in your father’s house. To remind you even further throughout the whole year, the stain glass window above the baptismal font is of the child Jesus in the Temple, pointing to the 10 Commandments. If you look really close he is pointing at the 4th commandment – “honor your father and mother.” That is what he did. Jesus returned with Mary and Joseph where we are told he grew in years and in wisdom, and in divine and human favor (Luke 2:52).
As we enter the transition of this new year – I pray that you find yourself connected to your Father’s house. I hope that your fears and anxiety are subsided in the presence of Christ and the guidance of the Spirit. I hope you renew your connections, make new ones, try something new, dig a little deeper, invite a friend who is on the outside looking in, and celebrate the richness of God’s grace that helps you grow in years and wisdom, in divine and human favor. This is a new year of possibility, of joy, of hope, of faith, of learning, and the connections between us. May we, like Mary and Joseph receive it as a gift and conversation piece for the road that awaits us all.
Peace, Pastor Geoff
“Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
A Prayer from Sundays and Seasons:
“We ask that you would protect these, your own children. Watch over them and keep them safe as they travel to and from school. As they learn, help them also to discover the different gifts that you have given each one of them to be used in your work in the world. As they hear the many voices that will fill their days, help them to listen most carefully for your voice, the one that tells them you will love them always, no matter what. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen”
From Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2011 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #23311.