It’s hard to believe that we’re only days away from “Back to School”! As we all know either from our own experiences or our children, grandchildren, etc., back to school can be a time of mixed-emotions. It can be a time of excitement, new possibilities, new challenges, and opportunities to grow and learn. But it can also be stressful, for students and parents, as transitions and new challenges arise.
The rhythm of the church year is very much like the school year. We do as little ‘work’ in the summer as possible, so that the leaders can rest and return re-charged for a new year. However, just like teachers and administration, by the time church is ‘back in session’ and everyone returns, albeit more slowly than school, a lot of preparation has gone on for our new ‘program year.’ Sarah and I had a retreat in early August and dreamed up some new ways to do some of our special services, as well as to make some changes in worship including introducing some new hymns! The Worship and Christian Ed committees also had a terrific meeting (poolside) to share fellowship, as well as craft new ways to make worship and Sunday School more inviting and engaging, using the same stories/texts
in worship as in Sunday School.
Story is an important part of our faith and our life in community. Story is how the Old Testament Scriptures were handed down in what is known as the ‘oral tradition.’ You may remember the story of the burning bush, or when Moses parts the Red Sea… but you may have difficulty remembering the details of the story and/or why it matters to us today. Moses is one of the most well-known characters of the bible and we’ll be looking at his activity, but it is God’s activity that we’ll really be focusing on.
So…we’re all going ‘back to school’ by revisiting the wonderfully rich stories in Exodus to start off our program year, both in worship and Sunday School. You may not have gotten new Sunday School or church shoes for yourself (or even your kids) but I really encourage you to prepare yourself to be engaged, excited, stretched and inspired by our Fall plans.
There’s a very clever and inspiring commercial running on TV currently. As the scene opens there’s a young boy about 9 or 10, who nervously sits down at the lunch table by himself. Almost immediately, he knocks his reusable water bottle on the floor. Because it’s empty it makes a lot of noise and all of the other children take note. Instead of the rest of the children laughing and pointing at him (like they did back in the 70’s commercials), another student picks up on the sound of the water bottle and starts drumming with pencils on their plate. Another student starts a third rhythm by banging plastic cups on the table. Eventually the whole lunch room is engaged in ‘making music’ and dancing together making a joyful noise, that started with a mistake by the newbie. The commercial ends with them all standing together and saying to the newcomer, “welcome to our school”.
As our young families grow and seek to bring and keep their kids in worship and Sunday School, they will invariably drop things and make noise. As our older adults return, they too will drop things or talk louder than they think is audible to the pews in front and behind them. Newcomers will come and ‘kick’ the tires, to see if our church is the place where they can come and get connected and be accepted. When you hear, or see, and even talk to these people, may you not only be gracious, but warm and welcoming and invite their presence and even their noises as they try to fit in.
Remember, even Moses started out as a basket-case!
Welcoming all to come back to ‘school,’ in Christ,