It is hard to believe that it is already September and back to school time. I’m sure many of us had hoped back in the spring, when the schools went to distanced learning and the pandemic set in, that by the time the new school year rolled around we’d be back to “normal”. I know I originally hoped the same for the church and all of our ministries and activities. Unfortunately we are still doing many things online and when we can gather in person it is in smaller groups and at a distance.
As students and teachers prepare to go back to school, whether full time online or a hybrid of online and in person, we as the church are in a similar situation. Some of our Bible studies and classes are online, some are in person and physically distanced, and a couple have yet to begin again. While none of this is ideal, it is a time to remember that as Christians the entirety of our faith is our school. We do not learn solely in the classroom or at Bible study. Just as many children sit down at the dinning table to learn from home so too can we learn when we gather at the Lord’s Table, however that gathering might take place in the time of pandemic. We have all hopefully learned the importance of washing our hands during these past months, so too can we learn from the washing we have received at the font. In baptism not only are we washed, but we promise to support and nurture the person being baptized in their life and faith. In this promise we have promised to be teachers of and learners with one another. Our worship, fellowship, study, and mission may take different shapes as we continue in this pandemic, but that does not mean our promises at baptism do not still hold true.
We are all still called to support and nurture each other’s faith, to teach and accompany one another as we learn more about and grow deeper with God. Unlike our system of public education, that ends upon high school graduation, the school of faith maintains a lifelong enrollment. So let us think creatively about how we might continue in the school of faith in these different and challenging times. Let us look to unusual places and situations to be our classrooms. And let us remember that we are one another’s teachers as well as fellow learners in this school.
Teaching God, thank you for your constant presence in our lives, especially these past months during the continuing COVID19 pandemic. Thank you for the creativity you have given to so many people allowing us to rethink the ways in which we worship, learn, work, and live our lives while caring for the health of our communities.
As a new school year begins we lift up to you the students, their families, the teachers, and the school staff. Surround them with your love and care as they prepare to learn, teach, and work in new and different ways. Grant grace to everyone as they (re)adjust to schooling online and in the classroom. Bless the students as they start a new year, some in new schools. Bless the teachers as they seek to encourage the students and pass on what they know. Bless the parents as they support and encourage their children’s learning and creativity. Bless the school staff and administrators as they enable education in our community and nation. Bless the university and trade school students as they prepare for their careers and bless the professors who will teach them. Increase knowledge, wisdom, and creativity in the students, and in us all.
Encourage us all in our discipleship, that we might continue learning as we seek to deepen our faith and grow in our knowledge of you. Encourage every one of us; children, youth, and adults, in our pursuit of you and will. Empower us to support and nurture one another in our life of faith, enabling us to grow individually and communally. We ask these things in the name of Jesus, our teacher. Amen.