As summer days begin to shorten teachers are finding themselves back in their classrooms cleaning, purging and organizing for a new year. In homes, backpacks are being stuffed with pencils, protractors and glue sticks. Vans are being loaded with laundry baskets of sheets, microwaves and computers that will fill empty college dorm rooms. All children are busy lovingly framing pictures of their parents and siblings to adorn the door of their lockers and the walls of their dorms – well, maybe not!
With the arrival of fall, a readiness emerges to begin a new season that is the human journey of lifelong learning. Minds and hearts are excited about the potential of broadening their base of knowledge and deepening their understanding of this world of which we are all part.
This text from Isaiah reminds us that while schools and universities are incredibly important influences in our ongoing development, they are not the only influence we need to focus on:
“Assemble yourselves and come together….
There is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is no one besides me.
Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!”
As lifelong learners in the community of faith, fall is a reminder that we need to take seriously the command to come together and turn our hearts and minds toward God. We must gather as community and prepare ourselves to hear again the stories of our fore bearers in faith, to wrestle with their stories as people maturing in faith, and be changed by them.
- Who is this God whose story the scripture reveals?
- What are we carrying in our backpacks of faith that does not serve this living God but rather weighs us down and keeps us from being who we are called to be?
- What ideas, beliefs and practices do we need to let go of in order to turn more fully toward the living God?
- How do we need to live more fully into our faith?
- How can we better serve the world of God’s hands?
- Where do we need to bring the love of God today?
Just as it would not serve our children well to stay stuck in the first grade curriculum with first grade questions and first grade answers, neither does it serve us well as maturing adults to discontinue the challenging work of growing in faith.
As our children return to the classroom with eagerness and joy, so may each one of us return to the community of faith with that same anticipation. May we be ready to hear, to learn and be changed. May we discipline ourselves to do the hard work of growing in faith so that together we can serve God’s world in faithfulness with love.
Let us gather. Let us turn our heart and minds to the one true God, the one in whose image we are created and in whose heart we will be held forever.
Thanks be to God.