Thoughts on the beginning of the school year

I find it strange that many are already going back to school.  Personally I never started a traditional school year before Labor Day, and even when I was in college and seminary, the earliest I ever started classes was the Tuesday before Labor Day.

Nevertheless, another school year begins for some as early as last week, and for others as late as Labor Day, but all will go to their various school buildings and begin their studies.

The Bible does not tell us much about people going to school.  I suppose Samuel would be the closest in being a student under the High Priest Eli.  And one can assume classes were at some point taken by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea and St. Paul in the process of becoming Pharisees.  And like Samuel, Timothy is a student under St. Paul.

But the idea of sitting in a classroom, of taking written tests, and of doing homework does not really make itself apparent in the Bible.

But the Bible does tell us some that can be helpful as one prepares for the new school year.

First and foremost is the Fourth Commandment: Honor your father and mother.  Your parents have determined that it is in your best interests, and in the best interests of society, that you receive formal academic training, and so they have invested your teachers with authority over you to give you that academic training.  As students it is your job, just as it is your job as sons and daughters, to love, honor, serve and obey them.

Secondly, 1 John 4:1 tells us to test the spirits to see if they are from God.  Schools, whether they be public or private, are not immune from sinners, or from false prophets who will try to lead you astray.  When you are confronted with an idea or a temptation that is contrary to what you have learned from the scriptures, test it, challenge it, and if it does not stand up to the test, then flee from it.

And finally, remember the words of Nehemiah 9:17b: You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  This school year, like all of the other school years, will present many and various opportunities to sin and to fall away from the way of the Lord.  You will make your teachers and parents angry; you will make God angry; you will even make yourself angry.  But in those moments of frustration, remember God is always ready to forgive.  He is always gracious and merciful, and always abounding in steadfast love.  When you forget your books, don’t do your homework, are disruptive in class, are late for practice, and uncooperative with your parents; remember that God is always ready to forgive you.

So a new school year begins again.  It will be long, it will be challenging, it will be both memorable and forgettable, but most of all, it will be overseen by your Father who is in heaven, who has called you by name, for you are His.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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