Today is the first day of school. It’s not the first day of school ever. Or the first day at a new school. Today is really just like any other day.
Except that it’s not.
When I was a kid, I used to look forward to the first day of school. I loved the new backpack and the new school supplies. I spent hours deciding which new outfit I was going to wear on the first day (and the second). I loved to learn (and still do). Each first day of the school year was full of potential of new friends and new experiences.
“I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the LORD; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (CEB) God of Hope, today is the first day of something new. For students who are filled with excitement – may it overflow to those who may be filled with worry. For students who feel that no one cares – assure them that they are on your mind today and every day. For students who do not know peace in their homes – may their classrooms be a sanctuary where your peace can be planted. For students who feel overwhelmed by loneliness, learning difficulties, or fear – may they hear a word of hope for today, tomorrow and in their future to come.
The schools have been cleaned, polished, refurbished, and decorated for today. They are like a feast that has been laid out, just waiting for the guests to arrive. Custodial staff have been working hard to prepare buildings and grounds. Teachers have already been pulled from summer vacation and summer schedules to prepare for today and the 179 days to come. Administrators have already welcomed parents and students at registration. Bus drivers have practiced their routes.
Jesus said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. – Luke 10:2 (NRSV) Rabbi, Teacher, you have called laborers to be teachers to our children. We give you thanks for their creativity and dedication; for their patience and teaching skills; for their presence with our children; for the knowledge they impart. We ask that you give teachers encouragement and provide the resources they need to live out their vocation. We also thank you for those we don’t always notice but whose work and care made our schools ready to receive our children. May every person who contributes to the education of our children feel valued – and help us to show our appreciation today and in the days to come.
The excitement of the first day of school wears off pretty quickly. Kids spend half the days of the year in school, so the first day of school soon melts into just any other day. New clothes will come home with stains or tears – or not even fit in a month or two. Shiny lunch boxes will be lost. Pencils will soon be eraser-less. Intentions to study harder, to make new friends, to try a new sport or activity will fade into a routine schedule.
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 (NRSV) Spirit of New Life, we are thankful you have made this day. May we continue to find excitement and energy for this school year even as the newness of today begins to fade. May any apprehension for today become a witness to your faithfulness. May we welcome the opportunity that each day brings to rejoice and be glad even in our everyday comings and goings.
Today is the first day of school and it’s like any other day.
Except that it’s not.
Each day is the next first day of who we are becoming. May your today be filled with rejoicing of what has been, what is, and what is yet to come.