Pastor Bill Schnackenberg, Centralia United Methodist Church
The lazy days of summer are upon us – at least that’s what they used to be called in my neck of the woods. The lull between spring planting and the end of school and the beginning of school and preparations for harvest were the best of times for playing in the water. Running through the sprinklers, floating boats down the irrigation ditches, riding one-speed bikes to neighboring towns – just loads of fun.
And then there was the shopping trip to get a new set of clothes for the upcoming school year, right about the beginning of August, and school supplies like pencils and notebooks and plenty of erasers.
Those shopping days heralded the beginning of another school year and we looked upon the new year with excitement – we’d see our old friends again and meet the new kids in school and the new teachers. There was an element of ready anticipation for a “do-over,” a fresh start.
Times haven’t changed that much over the years. The new school year is nearly here. New opportunities abound for both the children and parents, and even grandparents. Anticipating what’s next and attempting to get ready.
Jesus asks us to get ourselves ready, too. Not just for some far-off heavenly existence, but ready for some down-to-earth, here and now living. We are the people of God. God adopted us and has room for us in God’s family. Right now.
Jesus set us free, truly free, to treat each other like brothers and sisters, taking care of one another in our times of need, praying for each other while we work and play, helping each other and those around us when disasters strike. Jesus set us free to live a humane, human life. Jesus set us free to care for our environment, for those less fortunate than ourselves.
The opportunities are right in front of us to live the way Jesus taught his disciples – to live from the heart, a heart dedicated to God and the life God gives us. Jesus taught us to live in gratitude and to live with generosity in our hearts. As we share of ourselves, our gifts, our time, our money, our talents, our listening, we will be assuredly blessed by God.
That way of living brings us the blessing of joy, a joy that is hard to describe. It far exceeds the happiness we get when we receive a new toy. It far exceeds buying a new “anything” because that way of living impacts our heart, mind, and soul. Generous living spreads that same joy and love that you have just received. Are you as ready for that as you are ready for a new school year? I hope so, for then you, as beloved children of the living God, will be experiencing what it means to be part of God’s kingdom on earth