We are finally at the time of year where summer is sitting on the edge of the bed, waiting to hop off and come back into our lives for a well-timed visit. In Lutheran schools everywhere, students, staff, and faculty are making the mad dash toward the finish line. This includes securing funding, resetting for the next year, making sure grades are in, and lots of end-of-year classroom celebrations.
Jesus was cast out that sinners would be welcomed in.
After illness and death, perhaps the greatest COVID-related challenge is isolation. People living normally social lives have sequestered themselves in their homes to avoid the illness. Those in hospitals and nursing care facilities have endured months without visits from family and friends. Some have passed away without the comforting presence of loved ones. Beyond COVID, isolation remains troubling. Criminals are housed in prison. Spouses divorce. School children bully and reject each other. Teachers place unruly students in detention. Each of these examples illustrates a disquieting, but ultimately comforting concept in Christianity.
Life can get complicated.
We know the drill. There are deadlines to keep, bills to pay, places to go, chores to do. Then something breaks down. Where does the money come from? How will you get to where you need to go? How will you fit everything you want into your schedule? Will you ever find some time to relax in the midst of everything?
What about discipleship, or your daily life as a baptized believer in Christ? Does that feel complicated too?
Children running together, creating kites or cross necklaces, and high-pitched voices singing about Jesus almost seems like a distant memory. Oh, how we long to hear those sounds and see those smiling faces learning about their Savior! You may be feeling that hosting VBS is an uphill climb this year, but don't give up! Your church can find ways to share the joys of VBS and still respect the ongoing safety precautions associated with the pandemic.
Everyone knows what it’s like to be thirsty. Maybe you’ve just come in from working in the yard all afternoon. Perhaps a five-kilometer run left you parched. Your child gets up in the middle of the night for a glass of water after eating too many cookies at dinner.
The Israelites had a powerful thirst. They were traveling in the dry wilderness, with very few natural sources of water. As we explore Exodus 17 in relation to teaching Sunday School, it is important to keep in mind what has happened to the people of Israel. God has been faithful. He delivered them from slavery, led them out into the desert through the sea, and provided food in the form of quail and manna. Nevertheless, the people complained and distrusted God.
“What is your theology of education?”
It’s a question I ask candidates during those infrequent moments I find myself on an interview committee. I challenge you, dear reader, to stop for a moment and ponder that question before continuing. Go ahead … I’ll wait.
What is it about the fact that once a person says “don’t do [insert action],” it’s like every fiber of your being all of a sudden wants to do that action? Our family recently received a children’s story called Don’t Push the Button! that seeks to engage that familiar feeling. When the reader does give in and push the button, all kinds of silliness ensues.
To get the most out of Genesis 3, it is important to recognize what happens prior to the events of this chapter. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Then God created light with a mere word. He followed with the creation of the lights in the heavens, plants, and animals. He topped this creation with Adam, formed of the dust. God made man in His image and breathed life into him, both physical and eternal. Adam was His greatest creation. Because Adam did not have a suitable partner, God created Eve using a rib from Adam’s side. Adam and Eve were perfect for each other. Despite all these blessings, Adam and Eve listened to the serpent. They chose of their own free will to disobey God.
For most of us, the last week marked a painful anniversary. There has been a meme going around different social media sites stating that “last year this time was our last normal week and no one knew it.” This is a fitting statement as in the United States we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of how the pandemic’s formal arrival has shifted our lives long-term.
I have a confession to make. I was not looking forward to teaching Sunday School this year, and on some Sundays I still trudge out the door instead of merrily skipping to teach. I had numerous reasons for my lack of enthusiasm. We are living in a pandemic, which means I would be donning a mask. I have four kids with whom I had just come off of distance learning. I had my fill of teaching in any capacity. Spending more time teaching was not on my to-do list. I didn’t want to give up my time in adult Bible study. I love asking questions and listening to the questions others ask.