Lisa Witherspoon
Associate Director of Children’s Ministry

As a former teacher, I have always enjoyed the excitement of a new school year. I think this may be the first time in all my life that I am NOT excited.

My oldest has gone off to college, my middle will be learning online until at least October, my youngest is going back in person with many, many restrictions – and, honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about ANY of it. NONE of it feels completely right or completely good.

It is most definitely not EXCITING.

I did a Google search for “Devotion for a New School Year,” what came up were actually devotions for a New Year – as in January 1. I thought back to January 1, 2020 – less than twelve months ago – all the hopes we had for the year ahead, right???

None of us knew what we would be facing just three months later when the pandemic began or now as we continue to forge ahead through it all with uncertainty and trepidation. What I did love about those “new year” devotions, though, and what I am missing about the excitement of a new school year is the NEW part.


Too much ‘new’

New is exhilarating because it is fresh and full of possibilities. New students, new teachers, new friends, new routines, new information, new classes, new opportunities – even new school clothes and new school supplies!

Well, this school year will be all kinds of “new,” won’t it?

In fact, it is going to be so much new that I think we have crossed the line from “new” being fun and reached the point of “new” being scary. There will be new routines – but, we don’t really know what they are yet. There will be new learning platforms – but, again, we don’t know what that will be like.

New rules, new worries, new choices to make.


God’s ‘new’

The same is true as we begin a new year of Christian Formation. How do we find new ways to do Sunday School when we can’t be together; new ways to support our children and parents who are stressed out and anxious; new ways to build relationships when we can’t sit side by side??

All this new is rather overwhelming.

“New” isn’t new to God, though.

As one devotion put it: “Everybody likes new things, including God. He’s called the Ancient of Days, but He says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  (Isaiah 43: 18-19) God begins His book with the story of His creating a new world; He ends it with His plans to make a new heaven and new earth.”

Other scriptures tell us “His mercies are new every day” (Lamentations 3:22-23) and that “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul tells the Ephesians to let go of their old ways “and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24).


Seeing opportunities

As we move forward into whatever this “new” school year might hold, I am trying my best to have a positive outlook – for myself, but also for the kids I mother and the children I teach.

I am trying to get excited about new opportunities rather than be frustrated by new challenges. I am hoping all these opportunities will serve as a springboard for new creativity and collaboration.

I am praying for guidance, and wisdom, and joy. I am trying; I am hoping; I am praying.

And, I am reminding myself that “new” is not new to God. He is with us and He is holding us. He is used to “new” and He will not fail us now.

Gracious and loving God,

You know our hearts; you see our fears; you hear our prayers. As we delve even deeper into this “new” unknown, remind us that you are always near. Give us wisdom. Give us peace. Give us hope. Amen.