I love fall. It is my favorite time of the year. I love football, the smell in the air, the turning of the leaves, fall fashion and back to school. There is something comforting about getting back into a routine. Both of our children, Emily and Alex loved school and were excited to go; Emily is even a school teacher now, so she must love it!
Teachers are special people, I had a teacher who really went over and above to care for me. Mrs. Mays took our whole class from second grade and took us all to third grade with her. How special was that! Mrs. Mays made a huge impact on my life, with her kindness, her care, and how she treated me. I distinctly remember Mrs. Mays telling me that she was praying for me because I didn’t understand something she thought everyone knew. I will never forget the way Mrs. Mays made me feel. Important! I think that is why I have such a huge fondness for teachers.
I have heard many people say and on the news that we have taken God out of the schools. My first question, Is Jesus at school?
If you have heard He has been taken out, well, that just isn’t true! Even if you don’t consider that God is omnipresent (everywhere), I know people who enter that school, whichever school it is, with the love of Jesus in their hearts. Jesus has asked us to Love one another. 1John 3:18 says “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” That is just how Mrs. Mays loved me by how she treated and cared for me. I have the privilege of going into our schools several times a week for almost 15 years now and I want you to know that this has been my experience. I encounter teachers, custodians, cook, bus drivers, and administrators caring for the children in their schools. Is Jesus at school?
So next question is how do we participate? First pray! Pray every day for the schools. Pray for everyone who works in them or for them that God would watch over them and encourage them in all they do. Pray for the kids who go to the school that they would learn and grow so God can use them today and tomorrow. Pray for travel safety. I am sure when you pray, God will bring more to your mind to pray about for them. Second support the school, whichever school you are near, in their activities. I am not only saying elementary schools, but also, preschools, middle school, high school, colleges, trade schools, private or public schools. Every time you pass a school pray. Every time you see a bus pray. Every time you watch football pray for the students. Second encourage! If you are sending a child to school help them to understand that they are called to be kind to people, even when people are not kind to them. Please, help them understand that adults are here to help if the situation is not ok. Ask for help! Encourage them to serve one another, if someone drops a notebook pick it up, help where you can. If you know a teacher, custodian, cook, bus driver, and administrator encourage and support them; not just the first day but each and every day of the whole school year. Lastly, participate any way you are able. If you are able see how the school can use your gifts and skills, reading to a child, making copies, or buying supplies for a school or classroom.
When we talk about God being taken out of schools, I want to ask what we are putting into them. Pray, Encourage, and Participate with the love of Jesus!
St. Francis reportedly said, “Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words.” This is what I see in schools. I want to assure you that Jesus is there! Jesus is there because of believers who go into schools either as a student or as a worker who do exactly what we are called to do, which is love one another (are they perfect no, but neither are we).
Please be encouraged, Jesus is at school!
The writer is the children and family pastor at Sidney First United Methodist Church in Sidney.