“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:3
Are you ready to go back to school? It happens whether we are ready or not – so let us pull a Bible verse and test ourselves to see how geared up we are to traverse the journey of this year.
All at once simple and frustratingly complex, the word faith has a meaning we both feel and consistently articulate. When we all are gearing up to go back to school, how do we take account of where our faith is? We can use two tests:
1. How do you feel?
Do you feel close to God right now?
There are those moments where we, our families, or even on some intellectual level our brains are in a place where we our more in touch with God and what God wants for our lives.
If we have not felt that way in a while, what kinds of things would draw us close the divine presence around us? I think seeing God in creation during the blissful peaks of each season of the year is a go-to method but is also too narrow of a window to rely upon.
I think instead we need to look at the last time we felt reverent. Reverence is entirely different than simple acknowledgment or noticing (i.e. appreciating creating on a walk outside). Reverence is understanding how small we are compared to something much larger. These things are all around God’s creation and are part of our every day lives.
Look out for the thing that leaves you reverent. After all, if we never can feel the awe of something greater than ourselves, how can we expect to feel respect around things we see as lower than ourselves?
2. What do you want to share?
What have you learned about God, spirituality, the Bible, prayer, hymns, or otherwise?
We are always learning; and yes, regression and cognitive decline are real; but I think for many of us every day and week of our lives bring new understanding.
Sharing our knowledge makes sense in an educational setting, and our expectation of community learning should be no different.
Sharing what we know with one another is more than redundancy in faith formation, it is building up the community of faith and admitting that you have something valuable to say. What will you speak to others that gives them insight into your thoughts and understanding – particularly ones you have recently picked up?
Of all our emotional gamut, hope is one of the most elusive and one of the most powerful of all.
The Greek myth (I know, not a Biblical reference) involving Pandora’s box from Zeus beautifully illustrates how hope functions in our lives. With all the immeasurable pain, suffering, fear, strife, and burdens the world puts upon us there is one thing that breaks through the darkness and fills us with light where there was none – hope.
How is hope driving us as we go back to school?
1. How has COVID-19 impacted you?
Without diving into the science of it all, let us look introspectively for this test.
Assume that the normal we left behind in March has gone away forever, there is no going back to the way things were. ow do we look at the people around us now, what do we think of loved ones or acquaintances getting sick or worse, how have we succeeded or failed in reshaping the patters of our daily lives?
Crossing the Rubicon may be a bad reference given we did not choose the pandemic into existence, but at some point, we all had to choose to acknowledge it was real. Or maybe we did not, maybe we are in denial that our comfortable normal is simply hiding and we need to find it again.
Like opening the box, what has come out cannot come back in. What things are you wishing were back in that box – what do you miss about life before the pandemic?
2. What happens next?
Choosing to trust in God is difficult because it amounts to us admitting we are hopeless and only in God we find our hope.
This means we rely on God when thinking through about the future. When we imagine a world that learns, improves, and reshapes because of all these changes in society we trust that God is our north star we walk towards into the dark and unknown.
When we ask what is next, or how do we figure this out – think first how we involve God in those questions and answers.
Maybe love needs no sort of explanation or even test … well, it does today because this is how the blog post ends.
Paul tells us that ‘the greatest of these is love,’ Jesus tells us in John chapter 13 – “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
So here is the final question on the back-too-school test: how have you loved?
1. The Obvious
To your children, your partner, you parents, your friends. List the things you have done to show love to them; and, what you plan to do.
2. The Obscure
The people around you that you do not notice, whether be accident or choice. List the things you have done to show love to them; and, what you plan to do.
3. The Objectionable
The people you to whom you feel hate, disdain, or outright rejection. List the things you have done to show love to them; and, what you plan to do.
That is the test! How did you do?
If you made it to the end you have done enough soul searching for the day and can take a well-deserved break. Feel free to share your thoughts or reflections with us or with a friend!