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With each new school year, teachers spend countless hours preparing lessons, getting their classroom ready, and preparing themselves for another year. All of that is good and important work. Yet, the more I see Lutheran education in action, the more I’m reminded that much of the good and important work is done outside of the classroom. It happens in the hallways, on the playground, before and after school, on the court, in the field, and in ample other places. It is in these different places that we have the wonderful opportunity to pause and help students see the implications of God’s Word in our lives.
Years ago, I served as a camp counselor at Camp Lutherhaven in Idaho. They provided each counselor with a binder filled with stories, Bible passages, and a series of Bible studies. Each counselor had a small group of campers and also had the freedom to determine how and when to go through the list of Bible studies. There was a general suggested order and timeline, but we were free to adjust things as needed.
When I first started the summer, I picked a set time for each day that I dedicated to the Bible study, and that worked pretty well. Then, one week, as we were going on a hike together, something happened among the campers. They were tired and a few of them started talking badly about campers in another group. As I thought about how to reply, I realized that one of the Bible studies for the week directly related to what was happening. So, we continued about a hundred yards and I invited the group to have a seat . . . right on the trail.
I had a few Bibles in my backpack for later in the day, so I passed them out and we did the Bible study right then and there. We had a wonderful time exploring God’s Word and considering what it taught us about love and friendship. I didn’t explicitly bring up the conversation that I overheard; I didn’t have to. One of the campers brought it up in a moment of conviction as the camper noted the conflict between what he was saying and what God had to say to us. We shared a time of prayer together, asking for God’s forgiveness and being reminded of God’s love for us in Christ. Then we continued our hike.
It was planned, but it wasn’t. I had the Bible study ready, but we turned to it when the time seemed right. Think of all the moments when the time seems right to invite students into God’s Word, to join in prayer, to consider what God’s Word has to say about the daily aspects of our lives. There is no need to limit these moments to the scheduled classroom times or chapel. The wonderful part of a Lutheran school community is that these opportunities will arise throughout the school day, even before and after it. So, let’s prepare for the unexpected moments and rejoice in the honor of sharing God’s Word as we walk through each day with our students.
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