Thursday, September 6, 2012

First day of School: Sending Out the Sheep

It was supposed to be a beautiful morning at Seaview Elementary. Today was the first day of school and several hundred adults were to gather in the parking lot sending off a few hundred students to their first day of the school year, and some of them, like me, would be sending off a first time student to her first real day of school.

But today it rained. There could be no gathering in the parking lot. There was no walking your child to the line where a parent transitions their child to their teacher and the rest of her classmates. Rather because she is a first grader (having completed Kindergarten at home last year) she was to be dropped at the cafeteria door, where she was on her own to navigate through the helpful crew of teachers and aids who would show her where to go in order to wait for her teacher and the rest of her class.

Through the window I could see that as she found her seat, she remained a little nervous, unsure what to do at the cafeteria table, still bundled in her raincoat; and carrying her over-packed backpack with all her required school supplies... there was no helping her now--she is on her own to figure it out. There will be helpful guides along the way, there will be obstacles, on occasion she will likely fall--but ultimately it is the beginning of her learning to fly.

At the risk of confusing metaphors... it is not unlike when Jesus sent the disciples out as "sheep among wolves." I know a great school, like Seaview, is a great place, and we don't think of such places as wolf dens... but it is the beginning of learning how to be on your own. And school is the place where we begin to learn about things like bullies and social hierarchy. It is the place where we begin to learn that sometimes we fail and other times we succeed. It is good, but that doesn't mean it is easy. There are wolves out there; and as Jesus taught, we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

More to the point today is what it must be like for God to look out on all of us. We are God's children, and God has sent us as sheep among wolves to share the good news. Many of us have sent our children to school... anxious, excited, a little sad, hopeful, concerned, and many other perhaps unnameable emotions... In the same way God has sent each of us into the world; and I wonder if the God in whose image we are created in any way experiences those same emotions. Excited about what we can do with the power of Jesus in us, concerned about our well-being in world filled with wolves, and knowing that if the world will be redeemed; it will be done through Jesus work in us--the sheep who have been sent.

Several Facebook friends have shared a "photo" today:

Can you imagine our loving God sharing those same thoughts with regard to us in the world... Yes we have been sent into difficult times, difficult circumstances... at times we feel afraid, incapacitated, hopeless, frustrated... Indeed we have been sent as sheep among wolves, but we have been sent by a loving shepherd--just as loving parents have recently been sending out their children.

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