In John 15, Jesus uses a vine and its branches to teach us about spiritual growth. Our spiritual fruit is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In order to bear spiritual fruit, we have to be connected to the vine. Sometimes, even though it may cause suffering, we have to be pruned. God’s pruning process produces a bountiful harvest.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” “Happy Thanksgiving,” “Merry Christmas,” and “Happy New Year” are all phrases we hear both from loved ones and strangers that encourage us to be happy during this season. But for someone who is carrying the burden of grief or loss, the holidays may seem less like a time to relax and enjoy than a struggle to just make it through. The holiday season can be a painful reminder of a loved one who is no longer here to share it.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The entire month is dedicated to those who have experienced the loss of a baby, and it is a time set aside to grieve and remember families and their babies. One in four pregnancies result in miscarriage; one in eight women experience recurrent miscarriages; and stillbirth affects one in one hundred pregnancies. When someone is walking through a season of grief such as this, they are in a delicate state. Oftentimes, people try to offer comfort with the best intentions, but it can be interpreted as insensitive. Words carry an even heavier weight when one is grieving with an already heavy heart. Grieving can cause someone to hang on to every word and twist it in their mind. It may begin to feel, to that person, like no one understands.
Entering the back-to-school season, teachers have a great opportunity to reach out to the families in our schools and connect them to church. While some of these families may already be a part of a church body, many school families don’t have a church home of their own. During this season, churches are re-launching Sunday School and hosting back-to-school events and backpack blessings, but how can we continue to connect school families to church as the year progresses and schedules fill up?